Japan trade minister resigns amid melon donations scandal
By Chris Gallagher TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Trade Minister Isshu Sugawara resigned on Friday, following accusations of election law violations just a month after taking up the key post charged with handling a trade dispute with neighbouring South Korea.
By Chris Gallagher
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Trade Minister Isshu Sugawara resigned on Friday, following accusations of election law violations just a month after taking up the key post charged with handling a trade dispute with neighbouring South Korea.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he had accepted Sugawara's resignation and asked Hiroshi Kajiyama to take the helm at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
"I bear responsibility for his appointment and I deeply apologise to the people of Japan for this result," Abe told reporters at his office.
Sugawara had been under pressure after media said he had given gifts to voters in his Tokyo constituency, such as expensive melons and crabs, and offered condolence money to the family of a supporter, in possible violations of campaign law.
Sugawara needed to provide an explanation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga had said the previous day.
"I don't want my problems to slow down parliament deliberations," Sugawara told reporters on Friday in explaining his resignation.
Kajiyama, who will lead trade talks with Seoul should he accept the appointment, previously held a post in Abe's cabinet as minister in charge of revitalising local economies.
Japan and South Korea have been locked in a bitter trade dispute since Tokyo this year tightened export controls on materials vital for South Korean chipmakers, and then dropped Seoul from a list of countries eligible for fast-track exports.
The moves were seen in part as retaliation after South Korea's top court last October ordered some Japanese firms to compensate Koreans forced to work in their wartime mines and factories.
Abe and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon met on Thursday and agreed on the importance of cooperating on North Korea and other issues, seeking to rebuild relations amid the feud over history and trade.
(Reporting by Chris Gallagher and Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.