Justice Minister Keishu Tanaka resigned Tuesday citing ill health, but the real motivation for his resignation is a scandal in which he was accused of receiving political donations from a company run by a foreign national and of having personal ties with a gangster. He served as a Cabinet minister for just 23 days. Already suffering from dismal popularity ratings and under pressure to call an election, the scandal has dealt yet another blow to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s sagging political fortunes.

It is likely that Mr. Noda gave Mr. Tanaka — who has little experience in justice-related work — the portfolio as a political reward rather than due to his ability to ably serve in that position. Mr. Tanaka is a veteran member of the group of former Democratic Socialist Party Diet members within the Democratic Party of Japan that quickly lined up behind Mr. Noda when he sought re-election as DPJ chief.

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