Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida
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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his son Shotaro, an executive secretary to the prime minister, at the premier's office in Tokyo, 22 May. Kishida, has sacked son Shotaro amid outcry over a private party at his official residence.
The eldest son of Fumio Kishida, the Japanese prime minister, is to step down as his executive policy secretary amid public outcry over his use of the leader's official residence for a private party.

Photos published by the Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine showed his son Shotaro and about 10 relatives posing or lying on the symbolically important red-carpeted stairs of the residence in an imitation of group photos of newly appointed cabinets. Shotaro is at the centre - the position reserved for the prime minister.

Other photos taken at the bonenkai "forget-the-year" party on 30 December last year showed guests standing at a podium as if holding a news conference.

Shotaro Kishida's resignation is a blow to his father, whose approval ratings had improved immediately after this month's G7 summit in Hiroshima and an apparent attempt on his life during a campaign stop last month.

"As secretary for [the prime minister's] political affairs, a public position, his actions were inappropriate and I decided to replace him to have him take responsibility," Kishida said on Monday night. "Of course, responsibility for the appointment lies with me," he added. He said his son would be replaced by a longtime personal aide, Takayoshi Yamamoto, on Thursday.

Kishida acknowledged that he had briefly greeted the guests but said he had not stayed for the dinner party.

The chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, had earlier described the event as "inappropriate" and promised to ensure the residence was not used improperly again.

The nearly 100-year-old building previously served as the prime minister's office and was turned into living quarters in 2005 when a new office was built.

It is not the first time Shotaro, 32, has been criticised for abusing his official position. In January, while accompanying his father, he was reprimanded for using embassy cars for private sightseeing trips in Britain and Paris and for going shopping for souvenirs for cabinet members at a luxury department store in London.

Kishida said he had severely reprimanded his son over the party, but that failed to quell criticism from the public and opposition MPS, who accused him of nepotism.

Shotaro began working for his father in March 2020 after leaving his job at a trading house, with Kishida insisting he had appointed his son due to his "personality and insight".

The scandal could dampen speculation that Kishida is planning to call a snap lower house election after generally positive reviews of his performance during the G7 in Hiroshima, capped by an in-person appearance at the summit by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In a three-day opinion poll conducted by the Nikkei business newspaper from 26 May - several days after the summit ended - support for Kishida's government dropped to 47% compared with 52% in April.

Kishida appointed his son as policy secretary - one of eight secretary posts for the prime minister - in October. Appointing family members as a step towards grooming them as heirs is common in Japanese politics, which has a high proportion of hereditary lawmakers. Shotaro was previously his father's private secretary.

With Associated Press