- Special Pages
TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda yesterday named a new justice minister after the last one resigned in the wake of an uproar over past links to organised crime.
Makoto Taki, who was shuffled out of the post on October 1 to make way for the now scandal-tainted Keishu Tanaka, has been put back in his old job, the government announced.
“Former Justice Minister Taki has a thorough understanding of the workings of justice administration,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.
Taki, 74, a career civil servant, had a low profile while previously in office, but won plaudits for beefing up Japan’s laws on reckless driving.
Tanaka stepped down on Tuesday, citing health reasons after spending several days in hospital.
However, his resignation came after he was forced to admit links to yakuza organised crime syndicates when a magazine revealed he had once acted as a matchmaker for a senior mobster.
Tanaka spent more than a week insisting he would not quit over the issue, but local media said pressure from politicians of all stripes eventually forced his hand.
His resignation after only three weeks in the job was a fresh blow to an already beleaguered prime minister, who is facing pressure to go to the polls after trading opposition support for an unpopular tax hike in return for a pledge to call elections “soon”.
The Tanaka scandal is the latest in a string of setbacks for Noda, the ruling Democrats’ third prime minister in as many years, who is expected to lose the next election.
In September last year, days after Noda formed his government, then Trade Minister Yoshio Hachiro quit over comments about radiation following a visit to the Fukushima region, scene of a nuclear plant accident following an earthquake and tsunami in March that year.
Government policy-making has stalled since the parliament session ended last month, with the opposition blocking legislation in a split parliament to try and force an early election.