Japan's farm minister resigns amid political funds questions

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's agriculture minister resigned Monday following questions over his handling of political funding contributions, the latest in a series of such resignations.

Koya Nishikawa resigned as head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries saying he wanted to avoid disruptions to parliamentary proceedings.

Questions arose over an alleged 1 million yen ($8,400) donation to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party chapter headed by Nishikawa from a company run by a sugar manufacturers association that had received government subsidies.

"No matter how much I explain the situation, if people don't understand they don't understand," Nishikawa told reporters. "There is absolutely no conflict with the law, but people can still use this to tarnish my image."

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that he had resisted, but in the end accepted Nishikawa's resignation.

"He was determined to quit, and I have to respect his wishes. I think it's really regrettable," Abe said. He said he was asking lawmaker Yoshimasa Hayashi, who preceded Nishikawa as farm minister before a Cabinet reshuffle in September, to resume the post.

Abe praised Nishikawa for working on agricultural reforms and Japan's efforts toward forming a pan-Pacific trade pact, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.