Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks set lose one, and possibly two, cabinet ministers on Monday in the biggest set back since he took office in 2012, with media reports the trade and industry minister had resigned and Abe was considering replacing his justice minister.
Trade and industry Minister Yuko Obuchi, 40, the daughter of a prime minister and tipped as a future contender to become Japan's first female premier, tendered her resignation over allegations her support groups misused political funds, reported NHK public TV.
Obuchi declined to comment after emerging from Abe's office on Monday morning.
Obuchi was one of five women appointed by Abe in a cabinet reshuffle less than two months ago -- a move intended to boost his popularity and show his commitment to promoting women as part of his "Abenomics" strategy to revive the economy.
As head of the powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Obuchi, a telegenic mother of two, was tasked with selling Abe's unpopular plan to restart offline nuclear reactors to a public worried about safety after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Kyodo news agency said Abe was also considering replacing Justice Minister Midori Matsushima. The opposition Democratic Party on Friday filed a criminal complaint against Matsushima, accusing her of violating the election law by distributing paper fans to voters. The party has demanded that she resign.
Besides Obuchi and Matsushima, Defense Minister Akinori Eto has also questions from the opposition over his political funds.
Abe's public support has fallen and the scandals come as he prepares for tough policy decisions including whether to raise an already unpopular sales tax.