TOKYO, March 6, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP) – Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Sunday he is stepping down for having accepted a political donation from a foreigner, which is illegal in Japan, as reported by AP on Sunday (3/6/2011).
The resignation is another blow to the embattled administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, whose public approval rating has fallen below 20 percent amid concerns that the government is failing to tackle serious problems ranging from a lackluster economy and bulging national debt to an aging, shrinking population.
Maehara, 48, was foreign minister for just six months.
The allegation came up during a parliamentary budget committee meeting last week. Maehara initially said he didn’t know about it, but later acknowledged that his office accepted the donation from his longtime supporter, an ethnic South Korean resident in Kyoto, and apologized.
Japan’s political funding law prohibits lawmakers from accepting donations from foreigners, and opposition lawmakers demanded he take responsibility.
“I carefully thought about my political funding issue over the last few days, and I have decided to resign as foreign minister,” he told a televised news conference Sunday night.
“I apologize to the people that I ended up resigning after just six months on the job, and for causing distrust due to a politics-and-money problem despite my pledge to seek clean politics,” he said. “It’s truly regrettable that I caused such a problem because of my own mistake.” (*)