October 23, 2012 - 09:31 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Japan's justice minister quit on Tuesday, Oct 23, because of ill health, a cabinet official said, after calls for his resignation over past ties to an organized crime syndicate, dealing another blow to unpopular Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, according to Reuters.
Keishu Tanaka, 74, only became justice minister in a cabinet reshuffle on October 1, and his resignation is the second by a minister since Noda took office in September 2011.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a news conference that Tanaka stepped down for health reasons.
The resignation came a day after Tanaka left a Tokyo hospital where he had checked in on Friday with chest pains, irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure.
The health problems followed days of calls for his resignation after a magazine report linked him to the Yakuza organized crime syndicate.
Tanaka said he acted as a matchmaker at a mobster's wedding and attended a party thrown by the head of a crime group about 30 years ago, explaining that he was not aware of the groom's mob connections or the nature of the event at the time.
Tanaka has also admitted shortly after his appointment that his party branch accepted 420,000 yen ($5,300) in donations from a company run by a foreigner between 2006 and 2009. Accepting funds from foreign nationals is illegal if done so knowingly.
Tanaka's office said he had returned all of the money.
The Tanaka scandal is the latest in a string of setbacks for Noda, the ruling Democrats' third prime minister in as many years, who is expected to lose the next election.