Japanese Minister quits after gifting money, melons, oranges, roe and jelly to constituents

Japanese trade minister resigned after being accused of violating election law.

Local media reported that Isshu Sugawara gave his Tokyo constituents expensive melons, oranges, roe and royal jelly. He is also said to have offered “condolence money” of 20,000 Japanese yen to the family of a supporter.

Japan’s election law bans politicians from sending donations to voters in their home constituency.

The allegations first surfaced in weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun, which said that Sugawara’s secretary had offered about 20,000 yen to the family of a constituent who had passed away.

It is customary in Japan to give money as a condolence to grieving families – what is known as “incense money”.

The magazine also printed lists of gifts that had been sent by his office, including cod roe and oranges, as well as the thank you letters he allegedly received from the recipients.

On Friday speaking with media he said that he was still confirming whether he broke the election law, but had decided to step down.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “I bear responsibility in having appointed him. I deeply apologise to the Japanese people.”

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