Japanese Reconstruction Minister Quits Under Pressure

Posted July 5th, 2011 at 12:50 am (UTC-5)
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Japan’s newly named reconstruction minister resigned Tuesday over remarks that offended survivors of the country’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Ryu Matsumoto stepped down after meeting with embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan, only a week after Matsumoto was appointed to the post. It was the latest in a string of embarrassments for Mr. Kan, who is under pressure to resign over his handling of the disaster response.

Matsumoto angered earthquake victims when on Sunday he berated the governors of tsunami-battered Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

He told the governor of Iwate the central government would not help local communities that did not have any ideas of their own. He later lashed out at Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai for being late for their meeting.

Mr. Kan said last month that he will resign soon. But he says he wants to remain in office long enough to pass key legislation to finance Japan’s recovery from the disasters, which left about 23,000 people dead or missing.

Mr. Kan is also seeking legislation to promote renewable energy, such as solar and wind power.