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Shinzo Abe cancels government-funded cherry-blossom event

Opposition questions whether prime minister uses party to favor supporters

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe runs to greet guests during a cherry blossom party at Shinjuku Gyoen park in Tokyo in April.   © Reuters

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to cancel a controversial publicly funded cherry-blossom event next year amid mounting criticism that he has previously used it to entertain his supporters, the top government spokesman said Wednesday.

As the opposition forces have taken issue with what they see as murky criteria for selecting guests to the annual event, held every April since 1952, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government will carry out a "comprehensive" review.

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