Spokeswoman for Japan PM Suga resigns over expensive dinners with his son

Ms Makiko Yamada will tender her resignation on March 1.
Ms Makiko Yamada will tender her resignation on March 1.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Ms Makiko Yamada, a key spokeswoman for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, will resign after she and other senior bureaucrats were reprimanded for attending expensive dinners hosted by Mr Suga's son, the government said.

Ms Yamada tendered her resignation from hospital after being admitted for ill health, the Japanese government’s spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said during a regular press briefing.

"The prime minister judged it to be unavoidable," Mr Kato said. "If her health had permitted I would have liked to see her continue," he added

Mr Suga's administration, including Cabinet Public Relations Secretary Yamada, 60, has faced public anger after weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun last month reported that Mr Suga's oldest son, Mr Seigo Suga, an executive at a film company, had paid for expensive dinners for senior bureaucrats.

Japan's National Civil Service Ethics Law prohibits government employees from receiving gifts or entertainment from companies or individuals that could be seen to curry favour.

Her dinner with Mr Suga’s son and other executives at the company, one of several that prompted reprimands for 11 bureaucrats, cost 74,203 yen (S$925.86) per person, according to local media reports. 

Ms Yamada admission to hospital meant she missed a Monday parliamentary committee meeting where opposition politicians were expected to question her about her dinner with the younger Mr Suga, which was in 2019 when she was an official at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.