Japanese FM announces resignation over illegal donation, opposition demands PM step down

09:33, March 07, 2011      

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The file photo taken on Nov. 11, 2010 shows Japan's Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara speaking at a joint press conference after the plenary session of the ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Yokohama, Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has accepted Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara's resignation as foreign minister amid growing calls for him to do so for illegally receiving a donation from a South Korean supporter, public broadcaster NHK reported March 6, 2011. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara on Sunday announced his resignation amid growing calls for him to do so for illegally receiving a donation from a South Korean supporter.

The 48-year-old politician made the announcement at a press conference after talks with Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the prime minister's residence.

Following Maehara's departure, opposition parties demanded that Kan quit with his entire Cabinet .

"The Kan Cabinet has lost the people's confidence. Now his only options are whether to resign en masse or to dissolve the House of Representatives," New Komeito party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi was quoted by Kyodo News as saying.

Yamaguchi's call was echoed by Main opposition Liberal Democratic Party finance panel chief Jiro Kawasaki and Your Party head Yoshimi Watanabe, who demanded a lower house election be hold.

Maehara expressed his intention to step down during talks with Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the prime minister's office and rejected Kan's request to remain in office.

Maehara has been tipped as a possible successor to Kan as the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) president, a position deemed certain to accord him if the party stays in power, and his resignation will be a serious blow to the ruling DPJ government.

Earlier in the day Kan demanded that Maehara explain his receipt of the illegal donation, telling reporters that Maehara " should look into the matter and explain it thoroughly."

Avoiding the question as to how he will deal with the growing calls from opposition parties for Maehara to resign as foreign minister, the Prime Minister voiced hope that Maehara manages to justify his action, it may help tide him over.

Maehara admitted Friday at a meeting of the upper house budget committee that he received a 50,000 yen donation (610 U.S. dollars) from a female South Korean resident of Yamashina Ward, Kyoto Prefecture, but the Political Funds Control Law prohibits politicians from accepting donations from foreigners or foreign entities.

The foreign minister expressed his intention Saturday to remain in his post despite calls from opposition parties for him to leave Kan's cabinet.

"Whatever conclusion I draw, there needs to be a process by which I report to Prime Minister Naoto Kan and face his judgment," Maehara was quoted as saying at a press conference in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture.

After the Democratic Party of Japan took power in September 2009, the 48-year-old politician served as transport minister before taking the office of foreign minister in September 2010.

Source: Xinhua

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