Japan’s defense minister and one-time rising political star resigns

(CNN)Japan’s Defense Minister has resigned following allegations she helped to suppress the release of sensitive defense documents, in the latest blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet as his popularity continues to dive.

Tomomi Inada, a rising political star, assumed the role of defense minister in August 2016 and was seen by many as Abe’s successor-in-waiting.
In a press conference in Tokyo, Inada said she submitted her resignation letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday morning, who accepted it.
    Japan has never had a female prime minister, and Inada is only the second woman to serve as defense minister. The first, Yuriko Koike, was elected as the governor of Tokyo last year. She is also the first woman to hold that position.
    Inada’s resignation comes amid claims that she helped obscure internal records that detailed the danger Japanese peacekeepers faced in the war-torn nation ofSouth Sudan.
    The Japanese Defense Ministry said that logs of troop activity during a particularly violent time — records which could have affected the debate on whether to continue the deployment of Japanese troops in the region — were thrown away, but it was later revealed they were in fact preserved.
    Inada has denied playing a role in the alleged cover-up.
    Her resignation could portend bigger issues for Abe’s Liberal Democratic party and his future as prime minster. Abe’s Cabinet approval rating has plummeted to a record-low of 26%, according to a poll conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper on July 22 and 23.

      Could she become Japan’s first female Prime Minister?

    But the unpopularity of leadership in Tokyo isn’t limited to Abe’s ruling Liberal Democrats. Renho Murata, the head of the largest opposition Democratic party, stepped down Thursday, explaining that the party needed new leadership to attract more support from the public.

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