Japan's premier apologizes over finance minister's resignation

Other News Materials 19 February 2009 07:59 (UTC +04:00)

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso on Thursday apologized for having to replace his finance minister during a recession and while the budget was being debated and accepted responsibility for appointing Shoichi Nakagawa to the post, dpa reported.

   "The responsibility for appointing him to a cabinet minister resides on me, of course," Aso told the House of Representatives Budget Committee in response to an opposition party demand for an apology.

   Nakagawa resigned Tuesday after he made an embarassing weekend appearance at a press conference after a meeting of the Group of Seven finance ministers in Rome.

   The 55-year-old appeared to be drunk and drowsy as he slurred his words and mumbled confusing replies to reporters' questions.

   Nakagawa initially said he would step down after the Diet passed the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins April 1, but he quit Tuesday after calls mounted for his immediate resignation even within his own Liberal Democratic Party.

   As the world's second-largest economy suffers from the worst recession in its postwar era, Nakagawa's resignation was another blow to Aso ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections this autumn.

   The support rate for Aso after the incident dropped to all-time low of 13.4 per cent, according to a Kyodo News Agency poll.