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New Scandal For Abe Cabinet, This One Involving S&M Club

Yoichi Miyazawa, who was just appointed Monday, admitted his office payed an S&M club bill in the latest embarrassment for Shinzo Abe's cabinet.

New Scandal For Abe Cabinet, This One Involving S&M Club
Getty Images / Andrew Burton
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is having a tough week. Just three days after two members of his recently-appointed cabinet resigned, another minister is involved in an attention-grabbing scandal — one involving a sadomasochism club. 

Trade minister Yoichi Miyazawa, who was just appointed Monday, admitted Thursday that his office reimbursed a roughly $160 staff expense report from an S&M club in Hiroshima. 

The Japan Times described the club, saying, "The bar offers visitors a live S&M show featuring a woman in underwear tied up in ropes. Enthusiasts are invited to join in."

Miyazawa denied going to the club himself, or even knowing what it was when his office approved the expense. But it still doesn't look good for the prime minister.

Abe took personal responsibility for appointing the two ministers who resigned this week over finance scandals, and now it seems likely his cabinet troubles won't end there. 

Japan Today says opposition lawmakers are "smelling blood" and are targeting at least three other cabinet members "over alleged influence peddling, improper donations or problems in reporting on political funds."

And how's this for bad optics: another of Abe's ministers and one of his party chiefs photographed apparently posing with the head of Japan's neo-Nazi party. 

The point the opposition leaders are trying to make is that Abe botched his major cabinet reshuffle last month, and the more scandals they can find, the more evidence they can point to.

ABC Australia: "Members of the Liberal Democratic Party have come out and said that, because the cabinet reshuffle was so quick, that they didn't really vet the ministers that well."

This all amounts to the first major blow to Abe's government since he took over in 2012, but it's familiar territory. He saw a mass exodus last time he was prime minister in 2006 to 2007, when five of his cabinet members stepped down.

Public support for Abe's government has dropped below 50 percent since the series of scandals began. It's not clear yet whether all the bad press will have a lasting impact. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.