Saturday, December 9, 2023

Japan Vice Finance Minister resigns due to unpaid taxes

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In response to a magazine report revealing unpaid taxes by his company, Kenji Kanda, a senior vice Finance Minister in Japan, submitted his resignation on Monday. The government approved Kanda’s resignation after he presented it to Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki, adding another challenge for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, according to Kyodo News.

Kanda, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and a House of Representatives lawmaker, acknowledged that his company’s land and property had been seized four times between 2013 and 2022 due to non-payment of fixed asset taxes, as reported by Kyodo News. Opposition parties criticized Kanda, given his prominent role in the Finance Ministry, and he admitted to not attending mandatory annual lectures for tax accountants, as outlined in the Shukan Bunshun weekly report.

During a parliamentary session the previous week, Kanda attributed his non-compliance with tax responsibilities to his increased focus on national political affairs, stating that the day-to-day matters were handled by the tax accountant’s office staff. While expressing regret for his actions, Kanda initially denied intentions to resign from his position as senior vice finance minister.

An opposition lawmaker labeled Kanda a “criminal,” asserting that his failure to pay taxes could convey the message that tax payment is optional. Despite Kanda’s apology, Kenta Izumi, leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, urged Kanda to step down promptly, emphasizing the importance of his role in the Finance Ministry’s tax collection responsibilities, according to Kyodo News.

Izumi hinted that his party might abstain from Diet deliberations on a supplementary budget for the fiscal year ending March 2024, allocated for a new economic stimulus package, unless Kanda is replaced. Kanda’s resignation follows the departure of two other Cabinet members in September when Prime Minister Kishida reshuffled his cabinet—Taro Yamada resigned as parliamentary vice education minister over an extramarital affair, and Mito Kakizawa stepped down as senior vice minister for justice due to an alleged election law violation.

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