Japan chief cabinet secretary to double as foreign minister

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 18, 2011 4:31 PM
Japan chief cabinet secretary to double as foreign minister

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano will double as foreign minister temporarily, Kyodo news agency said on Monday, a day after the country's foreign minister abruptly quit in a controversy over political donations.

Seiji Maehara's resignation on Sunday after he admitted to taking donations from a Korean resident was a fresh blow to unpopular Prime Minister Naoto Kan as he fights to keep his party from splintering and to enact budget bills in a divided parliament.

The unpopular premier is also facing calls from within his own fractious party to resign, while opposition parties are pushing him to call a snap election for the powerful lower house that his ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) could well lose.

More than half of the respondents to a Yomiuri newspaper poll released on Monday said they wanted Kan to step down soon, while the support rating for Kan's government was at 24 percent, down 3 points from a Yomiuri survey last month.

Kan's health minister, Ritsuo Hosokawa, is also under fire for the government's poor handling of efforts to help housewives who mistakenly failed to pay pension premiums.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Edmund Klamann)