The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved the resignation of scandal-tainted Koichi Kato.

The Lower House approved Kato’s resignation at a plenary session after the former Liberal Democratic Party secretary general submitted a letter of intent to resign to Tamisuke Watanuki, speaker of the chamber, on Monday.

Kato, 62, told the Lower House Budget Committee he was resigning to take “social, political and moral responsibility” for various allegations involving his political funds.

Kato’s resignation comes after his former top aide, Saburo Sato, 61, was charged with evading 104 million yen in taxes by concealing 277 million yen in income in the three years through 2000.

Kato also received about 90 million yen in a personal bank account from a political fund-managing body under Sato’s control, to pay the rent on his posh apartment in Tokyo’s Minami-Aoyama district and to cover other expenses.

It was also revealed that Kato received “consulting fees” from padded printing costs for a magazine.

Ministers praise exit

Cabinet ministers on Tuesday praised the resignation of former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Koichi Kato as a Diet member over a money scandal.

“He acted properly as a politician,” said Chikage Ogi, the land, infrastructure and transport minister and a member of the New Conservative Party.

Health minister Chikara Sakaguchi, of New Komeito, said resigning as a lawmaker is “easier said than done. I would like to show my respect for his decision.”

Said posts minister Toranosuke Katayama: “It must have been a very painful decision. He decided well.”

Agriculture minister Tsutomu Takebe, who is also facing calls to take responsibility over the handling of the mad cow disease outbreak last year, said: “He gracefully made his position clear. I think the path ahead will be thorny, but I hope there will be a time when he is able to use his talents.”

Nobuteru Ishihara, state minister in charge of administrative and regulatory reforms, said, “I was one who had hoped to make Mr. Kato prime minister, so I have deep emotions and wonder where things began to go wrong.”

Ishihara also stressed the need to strengthen regulations on the use of money linked to politics.

“Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is talking about banning donations from companies that have orders for public works projects, so I hope a (bill to create a) system that will not invite suspicion will be submitted during the current Diet session,” Ishihara said.

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