Spokeswoman for Japan PM Suga resigns over expensive dinners with his son

FILE PHOTO: Makiko Yamada and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's predecesstor, Shinzo Abe, smile as Abe appoints her as secretary to the prime minister in Tokyo November 29, 2013. REUTERS/Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Makiko Yamada, a key spokeswoman for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, has resigned after she and other senior bureaucrats were reprimanded for attending expensive dinners hosted by Suga's son, the government said.

Yamada tendered her resignation from hospital after being admitted for ill health, the Japanese government's spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said during a regular press briefing.

"The prime minister judged it to be unavoidable," Kato said. "If her health had permitted I would have liked to see her continue," he added

Suga's administration, including Cabinet Public Relations Secretary Yamada, 60, has faced public anger after weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun last month reported that Suga's oldest son, Seigo Suga, an executive at a company producing television programmes for satellite broadcaster, had paid for expensive dinners for senior bureaucrats.

Japan's National Civil Service Ethics Law prohibits government employees from receiving gifts or entertainment from companies or individuals that could be seen to curry favour.

Her dinner with Suga's son and other executives at the company, one of several that prompted reprimands for 11 bureaucrats, cost 74,203 yen ($696) per person, according to local media reports.

Yamada admission to hospital meant she missed a Monday parliamentary committee meeting where opposition politicians were expected to question her about her dinner with the younger Suga, which was in 2019 when she was an official at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

($1 = 106.6600 yen)

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Lincoln Feast.)

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