Trade minister Isshu Sugawara resigned on Friday, a month and a half after assuming his post, following an accusation in a weekly tabloid that he violated an election campaign law.

"I feel deeply ashamed of myself to resign in the middle of my tenure amid mounting pending issues. I apologize," Sugawara, 57, told reporters after a Cabinet meeting Friday morning. "There are various reports regarding my political activities in my district."

He added: "It's not my intention to stall the Diet and deliberation of bills because of my problems, as debates in each committee pick up speed starting today."