The Straits Times
Published on Oct 22, 2012

Japan justice minister "mob ties" scandal new headache for PM Noda


TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is waiting for a doctor's report before deciding the fate of his justice minister who has admitted contacts with members of the Yakuza crime syndicate, a senior official was quoted as saying on Monday.

Mr Keishu Tanaka, 74, checked into a Tokyo hospital on Friday with chest pains, irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure after days of intensifying calls from the opposition for his resignation.

Mr Tanaka, merely three weeks into his job after the latest reshuffle of Mr Noda's Cabinet aimed at shoring up his sagging ratings, was responding to a weekly magazine report accusing him of past ties to organised crime.

Mr Tanaka said he acted as a matchmaker at a mobster's wedding and attended a party thrown by the head of a crime group about 30 years ago, explaining that he was not aware of the groom's mob connections or the nature of the event at the time.