TOKYO — Two top Finance Ministry officials offered their resignations Wednesday and a third reportedly committed suicide as repercussions spread from a bribery scandal that forced out Japan's finance minister.
The shake-up follows the arrests Monday of two ministry officials accused of tipping off banks about the ministry's inspections in exchange for gourmet dinners, golf outings and other lavish gifts.
Scrambling to recover credibility, the ministry announced Wednesday that it was creating a supervisory panel to crack down on illicit dealings between bureaucrats and banks.
Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka announced Tuesday that he was quitting to take responsibility for the scandal. On Wednesday, two of his deputies called on Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to accept their resignations.
Hashimoto asked the two, Vice Minister of Finance Takeshi Komura and Director of the Ministry's Secretariat Toshiro Muto, to think it over one more night, an aide in Komura's office said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Japanese media also reported that a senior bureaucrat in charge of overseeing bank inspections killed himself at his home Wednesday. Police refused to comment, but the official had been scheduled to be questioned by prosecutors later in the day.