Govt. To Cancel Cherry Blossom Party Next Year

Govt. to cancel cherry blossom party next year

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says the government will not hold a cherry blossom-viewing party next year, which is hosted every April by the prime minister.

Suga told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that the government will thoroughly review guidelines for the party, including the criteria for inviting guests.

He said the government understands that when the Cabinet Secretariat collects the names of guests, it also asks the Prime Minister's Office and the ruling party to recommend guests.

Suga noted that at the Prime Minister's Office, it considers recommendations by the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the chief cabinet secretary and the deputy chief cabinet secretaries.

Suga said the government has followed such procedures as a long-standing practice, but the government now plans to consider clarifying the criteria for inviting guests, reducing their number and budget, so that the government makes the invitation process more transparent.

Suga said the government will conduct an overall review of guidelines while seeking opinions from across a broad spectrum. He said the cancellation of next year's party was decided by the prime minister. He also said the government will proceed with the review, expecting the party will be resumed in the year after next.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has come under criticism from opposition lawmakers who say he has exploited the guidelines to invite many of his own supporters to the public-funded event.