Japan economy minister Akira Amari quits over graft claims

Japan’s economy minister resigned as he fended off corruption allegations, in a setback for prime minister Shinzo Abe’s effort to rev up growth in the world’s third-largest economy.

Akira Amari choked back tears as he announced his resignation in a televised news conference.

He denied wrongdoing but apologised for causing “concern and trouble” and for undermining public trust in the government with a “very embarrassing situation.”

The corruption scandal surfaced last week after the magazine Weekly Bunshun reported that Amari and his aides accepted at least €90,000 in cash and hospitality from the unnamed construction company.

As economy and fiscal minister since late 2012, Amari has been one of the most trusted members of Mr Abe’s cabinet.

He also served as Japan’s top negotiator for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

Amari, 66, is a career politician and son of a lawmaker who was first elected in 1983.

With Mr Amari’s departure, Mr Abe has lost a key ally as he is gearing up for an upper house election in the summer.

During questioning in parliament, Mr Amari said he did not recall clearly the details of meetings in his office with the construction company.


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