Tokyo Notes

Maehara Reportedly Quits

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara reportedly quits Sunday over a 200,000 yen donation.

The Japanese government was dealt a potentially fatal blow Sunday with reports that Seiji Maehara has thrown in the towel as foreign minister.

Maehara was under pressure to quit over his receipt of 200,000 yen in donations from a family friend of South Korean nationality (under a political funding law it’s illegal for lawmakers to receive contributions from non-Japanese). It’s not yet clear whether Maehara was aware of the donation.

NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, reported Sunday evening that Maehara had submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

With Kan’s approval ratings having dropped to around 20 percent, the prime minister has been under intense pressure to either depart or call a snap election. Maehara is one of the most popular government figures and had been touted as a good bet eventually for the top office.

More details will doubtless emerge this coming week, but it seems as if Japan’s political financing laws, and their manipulation by opposition lawmakers, have claimed another ministerial scalp.