Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie, have their photos taken with participants at the April 13 cherry blossom viewing event at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. (Nobuo Fujiwara)

As the winds of suspicion churn over the use of taxpayers' money for the prime minister's annual cherry blossom event and the heavily partisan guest list, it appears that the party is over.

At least in its current form.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in the afternoon of Nov. 13 that next year's event at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden has been canceled, adding that the decision was made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The event, going back to 1952, is aimed at acknowledging citizens who have made significant achievements in various fields, allowing them to mix and socialize.

Opposition lawmakers formed a task force to look into why such a large amount of public funds have been used for the event and why so many supporters of Abe and other influential politicians appear to have dominated the invitation list.

The government previously said that the Cabinet Secretariat and the Cabinet Office handled invitations to the cherry blossom viewing event after taking into consideration recommendations made by various ministries and agencies.

However, at the news conference, Suga admitted that recommendations were also accepted from Abe, Taro Aso, the deputy prime minister, Suga, deputy chief Cabinet secretaries and ruling party lawmakers.

At a morning news conference the same day, Suga denied the existence of special quotas set aside for Abe and other politicians in deciding who to invite.

Suga explained in the afternoon that recommendations from the prime minister's office and ruling party politicians were taken because it was a custom going back many years. However, he said the government would review the standards for inviting participants and ensure that the process is more transparent.

For any future events, opinions will be considered from a wide range of people on the appropriate scale of the event and the amount of public funds allocated for it, he said.