Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi and Justice Minister Midori Matsushima handed in their resignations after days of allegations that they had misused political funds. Their departure sees the number of women in the cabinet reduced to only three, a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s record-tying five women in his administration.

“I’m the person who appointed the two. As prime minister, I take responsibility for this and deeply apologise for this situation,” Abe told reporters. Yoichi Miyazawa, a lawmaker and nephew of former prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa, will replace Obuchi as industry minister, Abe said. Yoko Kamikawa, a 61-year-old female politician and former state minister in charge of Japan’s declining birthrate, was named as the new justice minister.

The departure of the two women is the first major public problem for Abe since he came to power in December 2012 after years of fragile governments.

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