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Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada

Defense chief's gaffe adds to Abe's headaches

Inada implies ruling party candidate has support of Japan's defense forces

| Japan

TOKYO -- In a fresh blow to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the defense minister is now under heavy fire for urging voters to support a particular ruling party candidate she said has the backing of Japan's defense forces.

Tomomi Inada, stumping Tuesday for a candidate from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the Tokyo assembly election, said that "the Defense Ministry, the Self-Defense Forces, the defense minister and the LDP" were counting on voters' support. Critics say her comments undermined the SDF's neutrality and Inada herself crossed the line as a public servant required to stay above the political fray.

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