Japan foreign minister rejects PM plea to stay: report

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2011 4:26 PM

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara rejected a plea from the prime minister to stay in his post after he offered his resignation over criticism for accepting political donations from a foreign national, Kyodo news agency said on Sunday.

Maehara's resignation would be a blow to Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his ruling Democratic Party (DPJ) as he fights to keep his job and avoid calling a snap election while trying to enact budget bills in a divided parliament and keeping the DPJ from unraveling.

Maehara, often 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 Linda Sieg; Editing by Joseph Radford)