[Tokyo] Two of the five women in Shinzo Abe's Japanese cabinet resigned on Monday beset by allegations of misusing political funds, dealing a blow to the prime minister's efforts to boost the profile of women.
Justice Minister Midori Matsushima handed in her notice just hours after Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi tendered her resignation, the prime minister told reporters.
"Economy Trade and Industry Minister Obuchi and Justice Minister Matsushima submitted resignations," he said.
"I'm the person who appointed the two. As prime minister, I take responsibility for this and deeply apologise for this situation," he said, adding he would replace them both within the day.
The two were elevated to the cabinet in September, as part of a reshuffle that saw five women appointed to key roles, tying the record for the most ever in Japan.
Ms Obuchi, the daughter of a former prime minister, was the highest profile of the five. As a mother of two, her family-friendly image was seen as being key to persuading a sceptical public that Japan should restart its mothballed nuclear plants. AFP