Japan’s foreign minister quits over illegal donation

Japans foreign minister suddenly quit Sunday for having accepted a political donation from a foreigner — a violation of Japanese law — dealing another blow to the embattled administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Seiji Maehara, 48, was foreign minister for just six months, and was viewed as a leading candidate to succeed Kan.

Maehara acknowledged receiving 50,000 yen $590 last year from a 72-year-old Korean woman who has lived most of her life in Japan. He said they had been friends since his childhood.

Some Japanese newspapers, however, said her donations over the past several years totaled 250,000 yen $3,000.Japanese law makes it very hard for foreigners to become citizens, even if their families have lived in the country for generations. The foreign residents include hundreds of thousands of ethnic Koreans, many descended from laborers brought forcibly to Japan during World War II.

Japans political funding law prohibits lawmakers from accepting donations from any foreigners, even those born in Japan.

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