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Ihei Ochi, chief of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, on Sept. 25 resigned from his post, citing poor health.

Ochi, 76, who took the position Sept. 11, was taken from his home to a Tokyo hospital Sept. 16 after complaining of illness. He has remained at the hospital at Jikei University School of Medicine to undergo a comprehensive checkup.

Ochi was the eldest member of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s new Cabinet, reshuffled two weeks ago. He is the second Cabinet member to step down following Koko Sato, who resigned as the Management and Coordination Agency chief amid mounting criticism of his appointment despite his bribery conviction in connection with the Lockheed scandal.

The outspoken Shimamura stirred a controversy when, as education minister under the administration of former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, he suggested that Japan should not always apologize for its wartime actions.

Yoshinobu Shimamura, 63, a Lower House member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and current parliamentary vice minister of the agriculture ministry, will be appointed to the farm chief’s post Sept. 26, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanezo Muraoka told a news conference. Muraoka declined to disclose Ochi’s diagnosis and prognosis, saying he has not been told details.

Ochi and Shimamura are members of the same LDP faction controlled by Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. Shimamura is known as one of the leading advocates of closer ties with the main opposition party, Shinshinto.

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