Japan's economy minister quits over bribe allegations

TOKYO - Japan's economy minister resigned Thursday 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.

See Full Article

Akira Amari choked back tears as he announced his resignation in a televised news conference. He denied wrongdoing but apologized 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 12 million yen ($103,000) 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 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 Amari's departure, Abe has lost a key ally as he is gearing up for an upper house election in the summer.

Political donations and their handling are perennial weak spots for Japanese lawmakers. The allegations against Amari have become fodder for attacks by Communist Party, Democratic Party of Japan and other members of the opposition, who otherwise are unable to effectively challenge the ruling Liberal Democrats' overwhelming majorities in the lower and upper legislatures.

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

Shukan Bunshun said that on one occasion, a construction company employee met with Amari in his office in November 2013, handing him an envelope containing 500,000 yen in cash and an expensive Japanese sweet called "yokan."

Asked about the gift, Amari said Thursday that he wasn't sure what was inside the bag, but that it was "very heavy."

His resignation comes amid mounting signs Japan's economic recovery is faltering, raising pressure on its central bank to inject still more cash into the economy on top of its already massive monetary stimulus.

Data released Thursday showed weak retail sales in December. Other major monthly data are due for release Friday.

Abe apologized over the scandal and said Amari's resignation was "very regrettable." He said Nobuteru Ishihara, a former environment minister, would take on Amari's posts.


Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.


Latest Canada & World News

  • British PM urges EU unity against Russia as Kremlin slams U.K.

    World News CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- British Prime Minister Theresa May urged European Union leaders on Thursday to unite and condemn Russia for not respecting international rules or borders, while Moscow slammed the U.K. as untrustworthy in its investigation of the poisoning of a former spy. Source
  • Manitoba RCMP to announce arrest in 2015 death of young mother

    Canada News CTV News
    Manitoba RCMP is set to announce an arrest in the 2015 death of a young mother, CTV News has learned. Krystal Andrews’ body was found in an isolated spot on God’s Lake First Nation in November, 2015. Source
  • Hamas says bomber who targeted Palestinian PM last week has been killed

    World News CBC News
    A man wanted for a bombing that targeted the Palestinian premier's convoy as he visited Gaza last week was killed in a firefight Thursday with Hamas forces, the militant Islamic group that rules the territory has said. Source
  • Polish firm sued over tricking homeless into flu vaccine test

    World News CBC News
    Last year, doctors and nurses were given suspended prison terms for misleading some 200 people, mostly homeless, in the town of Grudziadz, Poland, into taking part in the new vaccine tests. (Sebastian Duda/Shutterstock) Source
  • Assad moves closer to victory in Syria's Ghouta, as some rebels prepare to quit

    World News CBC News
    The Syrian government moved closer to ending rebel resistance in eastern Ghouta as civilians streamed out of one of its besieged, bomb-battered towns on Thursday and some rebel fighters prepared to surrender. The army assault on eastern Ghouta, an area of towns and farmland just outside Damascus, has been one of the most intense in Syria's seven-year-old war, killing more than 1,500 people in a relentless bombardment with war planes, shells and rockets. Source
  • Man accused in 2017 Toronto gay village death has case put over to April

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A man accused of murdering a young woman in Toronto's gay village has had his case put over to next month after a brief court appearance. Kalen Schlatter is charged with first-degree murder in the November 2017 death of 22-year-old Tess Richey. Source
  • Russia reacts angrily to British poisoning claims, Hitler comparison

    World News CBC News
    The Kremlin has denounced British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's statement comparing the World Cup in Russia to the Olympics hosted by Nazi Germany as "utterly disgusting." The tough response marks an escalating war of words between Moscow and London over the poisoning in Salisbury in southwestern England of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a military-grade nerve agent. Source
  • Iraq is holding more than 19,000 prisoners over ties to militant groups

    World News CBC News
    Iraq has detained or imprisoned at least 19,000 people accused of connections to the ISIS or other terrorist-related offences, and sentenced more than 3,000 of them to death, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. Source
  • 6 dead, 2 hurt in Czech chemical factory explosion

    World News CTV News
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic - An explosion rocked a chemical factory Thursday in the Czech Republic, killing six people and injuring two others, officials said. Unipetrol, a Czech oil processor and plastics producer, said the blast took place inside one of the storage tank for fuels and additives in its refinery in the town of Kralupy nad Vltavou, 16 kilometres north of the capital Prague. Source
  • 90 'just a number' for marathon record-setting B.C. senior

    Canada News CTV News
    B.J. McHugh might be 90, but that doesn’t mean her best days are behind her. In fact, it’s other runners her age who are eating her dust, as the Vancouver resident continues to break long-distance running records around the world. Source