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Monday, March 8, 1999 Published at 09:13 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Justice minister 'terminated'

''I'll be back'' ... but will the minister?

Japan's justice minister has resigned after allowing tough guy actor Arnold Schwarzenegger into the country without a passport.

Lawmaker Takao Jinnouchi, 65, has been named as his successor.

The BBC's Andrew Bomford: "His whole family are avid Arnie fans"
Key opposition parties demanded Shozaburo Nakamura stand down amid accusations he pocketed a letter of apology written by the Hollywood star, best-known for his role as the Terminator.

The bizarre saga started last October, when Schwarzenegger flew into Osaka on a private plane to open a theme park.

[ image: Brought down by the tough guy]
Brought down by the tough guy
The actor - whose other films include Total Recall and True Lies - arrived without a passport which he later said had been stolen.

He was given special permission to enter Japan after he submitted a report outlining the loss of his passport.

But it took nearly half a year for the document to reach the department in charge of immigration, giving rise to suspicions that Mr Nakamura had kept it as a souvenir.

The BBC's Juliet Hindell: Japan's justice minister has been terminated by the Terminator
Mr Nakamura told parliament he had approved Schwarzenegger's entry into Japan after seeing a faxed copy of the report. The original reached his office much later, he said.

In a confession he has come to rue, he also admitted: "I and all in the family are Schwarzenegger fans."

Property scandal

Two parliamentary committee meetings were suspended on Friday after a boycott by opposition parties calling for Mr Nakamura's resignation.

But the Schwarzenegger affair is not the only reason they wanted him out. The minister is also said to have been involved in a property scandal.

And in January, Mr Nakamura caused a storm when he suggested that Japan should revise its anti-war constitution to have a fully fledged military.

Mr Nakamura apologised that his actions had obstructed the workings of parliament. He is the second minister to resign from Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi's cabinet.

The head of the defence agency had to go last November over a scandal involving the procurement of military equipment.

New minister

The new Justice Minister, Takao Jinnouchi, was a senior member of Japan's upper House of Councillors.

His appointment to the post was announced on Monday by Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka.

Mr Jinnouchi belongs to the party's largest faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

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