September 3, 2007

Japan's farm minister resigned over illegal dealings

Japan's farm minister resigned over illegal dealings at a farmers' group he headed, delivering a fresh blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just a week after he revamped his cabinet to try to revive his popularity. A junior minister also quit and the head of a parliamentary ethics panel said he would resign from his post and leave the ruling party, both for fudging financial reports. The latest scandals were expected to erode Abe's support, which saw a rebound after he unveiled his new cabinet, but political analysts said the 52-year-old conservative was likely to stay on in the absence of a rival who wants the job now. Abe's first cabinet was plagued by scandals and gaffes that forced out several ministers and contributed to a disastrous defeat for the ruling camp in a July 29 upper house election.

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