Japan's justice minister Keishu Tanaka steps down

Featured Japan - October 23rd, 2012

Japan’s recently appointed justice minister stepped down Tuesday amid alleged ties to yakuza gang, citing his “ill health” the government said.

Keishu Tanaka assumed the post on October 1 as part of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s cabinet reshuffle, the third this year, an attempt to build up his disintegrating political clout.

Since he took office, Mr. Tanaka was laden with controversies over political funding and association with Japan’s organized crime. The 74-year old was brought to the hospital Friday for chest pains as calls for him to step down mounted.

Mr. Tanaka admitted that he acted as a matchmaker at a gangster’s wedding and attended a party hosted by a yakuza crime boss but claimed he was not aware of the person’s links to the yakuza. He also said his office had returned a sum of money donated from a foreign company between 2006-2009. Political donations from foreign nationals are illegal in Japan.

Mr. Noda accepted Mr. Tanaka’s resignation Tuesday, saying it was “disappointing”.

“We cannot do anything about him resigning due to health problems,” top government spokesman Osamu Fujimura told AFP.