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Kan urges Maehara to explain donation, but stays mum about fate.

TOKYO, March 6 Kyodo

Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara on Sunday to explain the circumstances behind his receipt of an illegal donation from a foreigner, but did not elaborate on how he will deal with the growing calls for the minister to leave the Cabinet.

''First of all, Mr. Maehara should look into the matter and explain it thoroughly,'' the premier told reporters, adding he hoped that if Maehara achieves accountability it will help defuse the problem.

Azuma Koshiishi, a veteran of Kan's ruling Democratic Party of Japan, told a TV show the same day that in principle he backs Maehara's intention to stay in the post but also urged him to disclose more information.

''It is necessary to get to the bottom of the matter,'' including whether the foreign minister knew the donor did not have Japanese nationality, Koshiishi said.

''It would be unacceptable if the details are not fully addressed. This matter should be settled as soon as possible,'' said Koshiishi, who heads the DPJ's caucus in the House of Coucillors.

Hirofumi Nakasone, the upper house caucus leader of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, urged Maehara to leave the Cabinet on his own initiative, telling the TV program, ''He is the Cabinet member handling diplomacy and has international influence.''

Maehara has been under fire over his receipt of at least 50,000 yen from a South Korean supporter in his constituency of Kyoto who has permanent resident status in Japan. The Political Funds Control Law bans political donations from foreigners or foreign entities.

The LDP claims the amount of the illegal donation totals 200,000 yen over the past four years.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Mar 7, 2011
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