• Kyodo

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Nagano Gov. Yasuo Tanaka will not accept the resignation of a top prefectural official who was widely criticized for folding the governor’s name card when it was handed to him during their first meeting last Thursday, officials said Tuesday.

Tokitaka Fujii, head of the prefectural business bureau, offered an apology to Tanaka when they met Sunday and asked for permission to resign.

Tanaka, who told Fujii to stay on, discussed the matter with Kiyoshi Iizawa — the prefectural public corporation management chief who appointed Fujii — as well as other officials and decided to reject the resignation request.

“I would like Mr. Fujii to continue his job as bureau chief for the benefit of the people of Nagano Prefecture,” Tanaka said. after the meeting.

Upon receiving a phone call from the governor on the decision, Fujii said, “I will do my best as if I were newly appointed.”

Tanaka reprimanded Iizawa, who held up Fujii’s letter of resignation during a news conference Monday.

Tanaka called Iizawa’s conduct “thoughtless and unpleasant,” saying such an act is “different from what I call information disclosure.”

Since television news footage of Fujii folding the governor’s name card was aired Thursday, more than 8,000 phone calls, fax and e-mail messages protesting his actions have flooded the prefectural offices.

Tanaka said the prefectural government must take these messages as encouragement for the new administration in its quest for “openness in Nagano Prefecture.”

“We must strive to proceed toward that direction by keeping a certain tension among ourselves,” he said.

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