Japan Finance Minister Nakagawa resigns after appearing tipsy
Although Japan's Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa denied that he was drunk during the G7 meeting in Rome, but decided to resign. The 50-year-old minister, a close ally of Aso, admitted to drinking some wine before the press conference after the G7 last Saturday. He was visibly tipsy during this press conference, causing a storm of protest in Japan. He would resign after government's budget is passed by the lower house of Parliament.
Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said Tuesday he has decided to step down in the face of criticism over his unusual behavior at a weekend press conference in Rome, delivering another blow to struggling Prime Minister Taro Aso.
The 55-year-old close ally of the premier said that he would resign after the fiscal 2009 budget and related bills clear the Diet, which is expected in March or April.
‘‘I was told by Prime Minister Aso to do my best until the passage (of the bills),’’ he told a hastily called press conference in Tokyo after he visited a doctor for a medical check.
‘‘My doctor said to me that I am suffering from a cold and fatigue,’’ he said, adding, he had ‘‘apologized for having caused a great deal of trouble to the prime minister and other people concerned’’ by not taking good enough care of his health.
Nakagawa slurred his words and sometimes closed his eyes at a news conference that followed a Group of Seven financial leaders’ meeting in the Italian capital. Footage showing what appeared to be drunken behavior was aired around the world.
The minister said he believes his wobbly performance was caused mainly by jet lag and the intake of too much cold medicine, brushing aside speculation that he was under the influence of alcohol at that time.