A new finance minister was appointed in Japan on Tuesday, immediately after his predecessor resigned following complaints of his erratic behavior.
Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa submitted his resignation Tuesday, three days after he appeared intoxicated at a Group of Seven gathering in Italy. Japan’s prime minister Taro Aso quickly appointed Kaoru Yosano, the economics minister, to replace Nakagawa. Nakagawa’s resignation had followed an announcement by Japan’s main opposition party that it would introduce a motion to censure him. He had initially said he would step down once a budget bill cleared the lower house of parliament. But the opposition Democratic Party of Japan refused to attend the sessions with Nakagawa attending. He apologized for his behavior, but denied that it was the result of “heavy drinking,” Japan’s Kyodo news agency said. Nakagawa said he had drinks on his flight to Rome and during the G-7 luncheon, but that the real culprit was too much medicine taken because he wasn’t feeling well, Kyodo reported.
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The G-7 meeting brought together finance ministers from the world’s leading industrialized nations in Rome. The G-7 sometimes meets as the G-8, when Russia also attends. In video of a Saturday news conference, Nakagawa responded slowly to reporters’ questions, slurring his words. At one point, he closes his eyes. Members of the Democratic Party of Japan didn’t believe Nakagawa’s medical account. “It’s not a simple matter of shame,” said DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama. “The damage to the national interest was immeasurable.”