Japanese PM Axes Minister, Clings to Job

Abe attempts to root out image of corruption as position remains tenuous
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Aug 1, 2007 4:35 PM CDT
Japan's Agriculture Minister Norihiko Akagi looks down during a press conference in Tokyo Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007. The scandal-embroiled agriculture minister stepped down Wednesday to take responsibility...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose party suffered a devastating election loss this past weekend, fired his scandal-ridden agriculture minister today in an effort to clean up his administration's image. But Abe still refuses to step down. "I take the results of the election seriously," he said. "But we must not create a political vacuum."

Discrepancies in Norihiko Akagi's political funding records had been a subject of media scrutiny since his appointment in June, Reuters reports—his predecessor was also involved in a scandal and committed suicide. Abe is barely holding on, backed by a coalition majority in the Japanese government's lower house and a dearth of possible successors.