Japan’s justice minister has resigned after being in office for less than a month.
Keishu Tanaka, 74, quit amidst a report in Shukan Shincho, a weekly magazine, that he had ties to organized crime syndicates, the Yakuza group.
According to a report by the BBC, after being admitted to the hospital on Friday for chest pains, Tanaka cited health issues behind his decision to step down. However, his resignation was already called upon after it was discovered that he had alleged personal ties to criminal gangs and participated in illegal political funding.
Tanaka responded to the accusations, admitting he did participate in a gang member's wedding and attended a party hosted by the group’s leader 30 years ago. But he claimed that at the time he was not aware of their links to the criminal group.
Additionally, he has been accused of accepting political donations from a foreign-run company, which is banned under political campaigning laws in Japan. He said he accepted the money but was aware of the source of the funding, and returned the money after he discovered the mistake.
According to Dow Jones Newswires, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura deflected questions at a press conference suggesting the resignation was related to Tanaka's organized crime links rather than to his recent health issues.
“Given that the reason for his resignation is medical, there is no direct link between the magazine report,” and his departure, Fujimura asserted.
Tanaka’s resignation is an added burden to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, whose approval ratings are low, at just 18 percent. Tanaka is now the second minister to step down under Noda's leadership.
Moreover, Noda is now under pressure from opposition parties to call for a general election, which is rumored to happen by the end of the year.
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