Asia

Isshu Sugawara: Minister quits after gifting melons and crabs to constituents

Japan's Trade Minister Isshu Sugawara speaks to the media at the parliament in Tokyo on October 25, 2019. - Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Isshu Sugawara spoke to reporters after resigning

Japan's new trade minister has resigned, after being accused of violating election law.

Media reports said Isshu Sugawara gave his Tokyo constituents expensive melons, oranges, roe and royal jelly.

He is also said to have offered "condolence money" of 20,000 Japanese yen ($185; £145) to the family of a supporter.

Japan's election law bans politicians from sending donations to voters in their home constituency.

The allegations first surfaced in weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun, which said that Mr Sugawara's secretary had offered about 20,000 yen to the family of a constituent who had passed away.

It is customary in Japan to give money as a condolence to grieving families - what is known as "incense money".

The magazine also printed lists of gifts that had been sent by his office, including cod roe and oranges, as well as the thank you letters he allegedly received from the recipients.

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Mr Sugawara told reporters on Friday that he was still confirming whether he broke the election law, but had decided to step down, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

"I don't want my problems to slow down parliament deliberations," Mr Sugawara said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: "I bear responsibility in having appointed him. I deeply apologise to the Japanese people."

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