Japan foreign minister says to quit over donations

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 22, 2011 10:29 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara told a news conference on Sunday he would resign following criticism for accepting political donations from a foreign national, the latest blow to unpopular Prime Minister Naoto Kan's troubled government.

Kan is fighting to keep his own job and avoid calling a snap election that his fractious Democratic Party (DPJ) could well lose, while struggling to enact budget bills in a divided parliament.

Maehara, a security hawk and critic of China's defense buildup who has often been cited as a possible new leader if unpopular Kan steps down, had admitted on Friday accepting donations from a Korean resident of Japan, but said he had done so unknowingly. Taking political donations from foreign nationals is illegal if done intentionally.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Joseph Radford)