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Vice Finance Minister Takeshi Komura handed in his resignation Thursday afternoon to take responsibility for the recent scandal in which two ministry inspectors were arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes from major banks.Koji Tanami, a ministry official now in charge of the Cabinet Councilors’ Office on Internal Affairs, has been tapped to take over Komura’s post after today’s Cabinet meeting. Hiroshi Mitsuzuka officially relinquished his position as finance minister Wednesday morning, also due to the scandal.”I alone will take complete responsibility for the scandal,” Komura told a news conference. “I came to the decision the same day the minister chose to step down, but thought that resigning simultaneously would throw the ministry into confusion.” He assumed the position of vice minister last July.As a result, three of the four men who have held the post since 1995 have stepped down without completing their terms, basically to take the blame for scandals or the use of taxpayers’ money to help liquidate the failed “jusen” mortgage lenders.Komura, the top bureaucrat at the powerful ministry, along with Toshiro Muto, chief of the ministry’s Secretariat, initially informed Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto — currently acting finance minister — of their intentions to step down Wednesday night. Sources close to the prime minister said Hashimoto effectively ordered Komura to resign during a meeting with the two officials earlier that day, but Komura denied this.Muto will stay on to oversee ongoing in-house investigations of other rumors of excessive wining and dining of ministry bureaucrats by financial firms and to deliver administrative punishment once indictments are handed out in the bribery case, according to Komura.He added that he does not foresee Muto stepping down once such issues have been dealt with. Muto is seen as a potential candidate to become a future vice minister.Along with recommending Tanami as his successor, Komura said he proposed to Hashimoto that Kazuhiko Takeshima, now head of the National Tax Administration Agency, fill Tanami’s shoes at the Cabinet’s Secretariat. As of Saturday, Nobuaki Usui, director general of the ministry’s Tax Bureau, will be chief of the Tax Agency, while his post is to be given to Shigeo Ohara, deputy director general of the bureau.

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