The suicide of a Japanese cabinet minister has rocked Shinzo Abe’s government, presently fighting an election campaign.
Agriculture Minister, Toshikatsu Matsuoka, was apparently found hanged at a residence for politicians in Tokyo and rushed to hospital but doctors were unable to save him.
He had recently been implicated in a number of financial scandals although he had maintained his innocence.
Matsuoka was accused of having taken political donations from businessmen involved in a bid-rigging scandal, and of claiming massive expenses on his office, near Parliament, which was actually given to him free of charge.
Japan’s Prime Minister had been criticised in the media for protecting Matsuoka. He said his death now was extremely regrettable and he was “overwhelmed with shame.”
Abe said he wanted to express his condolences to the Agriculture Minister’s wife and family.
Support for the ruling party has slumped in the run-up to elections for parliament’s upper house in July, because of a state pensions mix-up.
It is now expected to lose its majority.