Japan’s own Partygate sees Fumio Kishida fire his son over ‘inappropriate’ behaviour at PM’s official residence

Shotaro Kishida (R), son of Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida, attending a meeting at the prime minister’s office (JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images)

Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida has fired his own son from his role as an executive secretary amid public outcry over "inappropriate" photographs taken during a party at the premier's official residence.

Shotaro Kishida, the prime minister's eldest son and his executive secretary for political affairs, invited a group of people including relatives to an end-of-year party on 30 December at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo.

Photos from the party were published by the weekly Shukan Bunshun magazine, showing Mr Kishida’s son and his relatives posing on red-carpeted stairs in an imitation of the group photos typically taken of newly appointed cabinets, with Shotaro at the centre – the position normally reserved for the prime minister.

Other photos showed guests standing at a podium as if holding a news conference.

The photos published on 24 May have been widely condemned and represent a significant embarrassment for the prime minister, whose flagging approval ratings had been temporarily boosted by the positive reception of his hosting of the recent G7 summit.

Mr Kishida initially responded by saying he had sternly reprimanded his son for the party, but this did little to stave off public criticism.

In a statement on Tuesday, the prime minister said his son would be replaced in his official role by another secretary, Takayoshi Yamamoto, from 1 June.

“[Shotaro’s] actions last year in an official space were inappropriate for a secretary who is in an official position, so I decided to replace him to draw a line under this,” Mr Kishida said.

“Of course, the responsibility for the appointment lies with me. I take it seriously,” he continued, according to Japan Today.

“I want to fulfill my duties by addressing challenges that cannot be postponed and moving forward with determination.”

Mr Kishida senior acknowledged that he had also briefly greeted the guests at the party but said he didn't stay on afterwards.

A poll of the Japanese public carried out by the Asahi newspaper showed three quarters of respondents found the behavior of the prime minister’s son problematic. A separate poll by Nikkei showed the prime minister's support falling by five percentage points to 47.

Mr Kishida appointed his son as policy secretary, one of eight secretary posts for the prime minister, in October. The appointment itself drew criticism, with the opposition accusing Mr Kishida of grooming his son as heir.

The row over the Tokyo party was not the first time the behaviour of the 32-year-old Mr Kishida had created a political headache for his father. Shotaro Kishida was earlier accused of abusing his official poisition after he was spotted using embassy cars for private sightseeing in Britain and Paris and for buying souvenirs for cabinet members at a luxury department store in London during a trip with his father.

Chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno called the son's party at the official residence "inappropriate" and promised to ensure proper management of the facility.

Nobuyuki Baba, chief of the opposition Japan Innovation Party, told Kyodo News that the prime minister's son "should have acted with awareness of his position".