• Kyodo

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Former farm minister Takamori Yoshikawa said Monday he will step down as a lawmaker after allegedly receiving a total of ¥5 million ($48,000) from an egg production company in western Japan.

The resignation of Yoshikawa, a House of Representatives member from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, would deal a blow to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government, whose support ratings have been plunging over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 70-year-old politician, who served as minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries under Suga’s predecessor Shinzo Abe, said through his office that he has been hospitalized and cited health reasons for his resignation.

“I have found it difficult to serve as a Diet member and believe I will not be able to carry out activities that will fulfill the mandate of the people,” he said in a statement.

Opposition parties criticized Yoshikawa for failing to offer an adequate explanation for his decision.

“I wish for his speedy recovery, but feel it is wrong to resign without a single explanation concerning the allegations,” said Tetsuro Fukuyama, secretary general of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

Yoshikawa is suspected of receiving cash on three occasions from a former representative of Akita Foods Co. in Hiroshima Prefecture when he was farm minister between October 2018 and September 2019, according to sources close to the matter.

The former representative, whose name has not yet been revealed, has admitted to people around him that he offered cash to Yoshikawa to seek favors for the egg farming industry, they said.

Tokyo prosecutors are believed to be looking at establishing a bribery case because the money was not included in Yoshikawa’s political funds reports.

Yoshikawa’s announcement came around two weeks after Koya Nishikawa, another former farm minister, stepped down as a special adviser to the Cabinet following the revelation that he went on a boating trip hosted by the same egg production company and had received several million yen from the firm.

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