Prime Minister, Naoto Kan (R) speaks with Foreign Minister, Seiji Maehara in parliament
Japan's Foreign Minister, Seiji Maehara has resigned after being
criticised for accepting a political donation from a foreign national.
Japanese law bans the practise, if done intentionally, and the
opposition had called on him to quit, reports the BBC.
The move is seen as a blow to Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who has been
struggling to get budget bills through parliament and keep onto his
Maehara had been seen as a potential successor to Kan.
On Friday, he admitted taking a 50,000 yen ($610) political donation
from a South Korean national resident in Japan.
The sum is small but Japanese law bars politicians from accepting
money from outsiders to prevent foreign powers having influence on
The opposition said Maehara's position was untenable.
"I apologise to the Japanese people for stepping down after only six
months and provoking distrust over a problem with my political
funding, although I have sought to pursue a clean style of politics,"
Maehara said announcing his decision to step down. Even before the
scandal, Kan was battling to stave off opposition calls for an early
general election, says the BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo.
He wants to implement tax reform to cover the costs of Japan's rapidly
ageing society and rein in its massive public debt.
But deadlock in parliament means Kan is struggling to pass bills to
implement the trillion- dollar budget for the new financial year which
begins next month.
The Foreign Minister had called for closer ties with the US and had
been critical of China's military build-up.