Japan's 'TPP minister' resigns
KEN MORIYASU, Nikkei staff writer
TOKYO -- Akira Amari, Japan's economic and fiscal policy minister, and chief negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, announced Thursday he will resign amid allegations that he took cash from a construction company for favors.
At a televised press conference in Tokyo, Amari acknowledged that an aide had received 5 million yen ($42,000) from the company and had used 3 million of that for personal use. Amari said he will step down to take responsibility for his aide's actions.
The politician also admitted to personally receiving 500,000 yen on two occasions, but said the sums had been reported "according to the rules."
Amari, a central driver of "Abenomics," is the most senior cabinet member to resign under the current government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He has received international attention recently for successfully leading negotiations for an agreement on the TPP, a proposed free trade pact involving Japan, the U.S. and 10 other Pacific Rim economies.
"Japan is finally emerging from deflation. We need to pass legislation through parliament for steps to beat deflation and create a strong economy as soon as possible," Amari said at the press conference. "Anything that hampers this must be eliminated, and I'm no exception. I, therefore, would like to resign as minister to take responsibility."