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Report: Japan's trade and economy chief quits amid donations scandal

Japanese trade and economy chief Isshu Sugawara announced his resignation Oct. 25, less than two months since taking up the post, amid allegations of violating election laws, Kyodo News reported.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he has accepted the resignation and claimed responsibility for Sugawara's appointment. He named Liberal Democratic Party veteran Hiroshi Kajiyama as the new trade chief.

Sugawara, who was appointed Sept. 11 as Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry, allegedly offered ¥20,000 in condolence money to a family of one of his supporters through his office, and made other flower offerings to other bereaved families. He has also been criticized for allegedly making illegal donations such as melons and crabs to supporters.

Politicians are prohibited from donating to voters in their home constituencies under Japan's election law.

Sugawara had replaced Hiroshige Seko, who was Japanese trade minister when Tokyo imposed stricter export controls on certain technology materials to South Korea and stripped its East Asian neighbor off a so-called trade white list.

As of Oct. 24, US$1 was equivalent to ¥108.61.