Japan’s minister resigns over scandal

By Xinhua

Tokyo : A Japanese minister resigned over political fund scandals Wednesday, days after the ruling party suffered a crushing defeat in a parliamentary election.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has accepted the resignation of Norihiko Akagi, who held the agriculture, forestry and fisheries portfolio, Kyodo News quoted a cabinet official as saying.

"Media reports concerning myself and other factors had an impact on the election," Akagi told reporters.

Akagi's scandals surfaced soon after he took the post on June 1 when Abe picked him to succeed Toshikatsu Matsuoka, who committed suicide amid another political fund scandal.

After the failure to maintain majority in an upper house election Sunday, Abe, who is under mounting pressure to resign, said he would reshuffle the cabinet to continue political reforms.

The agricultural minister has been criticised for refusing to disclose receipts for expenses booked for a political support office at his parents' house.

Later, it was found that Akagi booked a dozen million yen in operating costs in Tokyo for another political group over the seven years to 2003 even after it relocated in 1996 to Ibaraki prefecture.

On Friday, the minister was hit by another revelation that his two support groups booked some 200,000 yen (about $1,700) in mail costs in 2003 by attaching photocopies of the same receipts to their official funding reports.