Tokyo, Oct 25 (IANS) Isshu Sugawara, Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, on Friday resigned from his post amid allegations of irregular donations.
Sugawara, 57, had taken over the ministry during the latest reshuffle of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on September 11, and had been a legislator for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party since 2003, reports Efe news.
Abe has accepted his resignation, according to national broadcaster NHK reported, adding that Sugawara will be replaced in the Ministry by Hiroshi Kajiyama, formerly Minister in charge of Regulatory Reform.
On Thursday, weekly tabloid magazine Shukan Bunshun reported that Sugawara’s secretary had offered a condolence gift of 20,000 yen ($184) to the family of a deceased voter in his Tokyo constituency.
It also alleged that his office had sent other gifts such as flowers to other bereaved families.
It is a Japanese tradition to give condolence money, or “incense money”, to grieving families at funerals.
However the country’s election law bans donations to voters due to the fear that they may raise suspicions of vote-buying, unless the senior official personally attends a wedding or funeral and gives the gift in person.
In the case of the condolence money, Sugawara claimed that he was unable to attend the funeral on that date due to his official activities, but that he visited the deceased supporter’s relatives the following day.