Japanese Justice Minister Resigns

Japanese justice minister resigns

Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai has stepped down. He is the second Cabinet minister to resign in less than a week.

A weekly magazine alleges that Kawai's wife violated the election law during her successful run in this year's Upper House election. It says Anri Kawai made payments to campaign staff that exceeded the legal limit.

The report also alleges misconduct within the minister's own office. It says his staff sent potatoes, corn and other gifts to voters in his constituency.

Kawai submitted his resignation letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday morning. Kawai told reporters he is taking responsibility for doubts that have surfaced that may undermine the public's trust.

Kawai also said that he and his wife were unaware of any allegations before the report was published and they both believe they've carried out their political and campaign activities according to the law.

The seven-term member of the Lower House is a former special diplomatic adviser to Abe. He joined the Cabinet for the first time in September.

Kawai's resignation comes after the new industry minister stepped down last Friday over allegations involving illegal donations and gift-giving to constituents.

Prime Minister Abe says he's taking seriously the heavy criticism prompted by these consecutive resignations.

Abe said, "I appointed the Justice Minister. I'm painfully aware of that responsibility, given how things turned out. I'd like to deeply and sincerely apologize to the people of Japan."

Masako Mori, an Upper House member of the Liberal Democratic Party, is replacing Kawai.

She has previously served as the minister in charge of measures to address the declining birthrate.