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Japanese finance minister to resign

Shoichi Nakagawa apologizes after opposition party claims that he appeared drunk at a news conference in Rome.

February 17, 2009|Bloomberg News

Japan's finance minister said today he would resign after the opposition party claimed that he appeared drunk at a news conference Saturday during a meeting in Rome of finance officials from the Group of 7 industrialized countries.

"I deeply apologize to the prime minister, the people and members of parliament for the significant trouble I caused," Shoichi Nakagawa told reporters in Tokyo.

He added that after a medical examination today he was diagnosed with exhaustion, as well as back pain and a cold.

Nakagawa said he would step down after fiscal 2009 budget bills were passed by the lower house of parliament. The move will leave Japan without a finance minister and a chief banking regulator as the nation grapples with its worst economic contraction in 35 years.

The resignation is a setback to Prime Minister Taro Aso, whose approval rating has plunged.

"This will be a big blow to Aso, who has already become a lame duck," said Hirotada Asakawa, an independent political analyst in Tokyo.

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