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Japan’s internal affairs minister steps down

From Yahoo News

Japan's internal affairs minister steps down

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s internal affairs and communications minister has resigned, dealing a setback to conservative Prime Minister Taro Aso just months before a general election.

Kunio Hatoyama, the brother of Japan‘s main opposition party leader Yukio Hatoyama, stepped down in a row related to the privatisation of the country’s huge postal service.

“I submitted my resignation,” he said.

“It’s regrettable but I can’t change my beliefs,” Hatoyama told reporters after a meeting with Aso.

Hatoyama had demanded Aso fire Yoshifumi Nishikawa, the head of the privatised postal service, over Nishikawa’s attempts to sell off postal assets at what Hatoyama called unreasonably low prices.

The minister accused the postal chief of a conflict of interest in trying to sell off a key public asset of the service, a nationwide hotel chain, at a price far below market value to a business associate.

Hatoyama had warned for weeks that if Nishikawa didn’t go, he would.

His resignation dealt a setback to Aso, whose public support ratings have recently hovered in the 30 percent range ahead of the general election, which must be held sometime between now and October.

Aso has been put in a quandary as some heavyweights of his Liberal Democratic Party back Nishikawa, the former governor of the private mega bank Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group.

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