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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 December 2006, 10:14 GMT
Second Japanese minister resigns
Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe
Japan's new PM Shinzo Abe has lost two ministers in a week
Japan's Minister for Administrative Reform, Genichiro Sata, has resigned amid allegations of irregular funding.

Mr Sata is the second minister to quit in less than a week, putting pressure on new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Japanese media said Mr Sata's political support group filed statements claiming it had spent $650,000 funding an office which did not exist.

Mr Sata blamed the mistake on "inadequate accounting" but said he resigned to take responsibility.

"As a politician, the most important thing right now is budget deliberations in next year's parliamentary session and in order that important bills can pass I must not cause a political crisis, so I decided to resign," he told reporters.

It was not clear if the incident would damage Mr Abe, who has seen his approval rating steadily fall since he took over as prime minister in September.

One of his chief concerns will be elections for Japan's upper house, due in July 2007.

Last week, the man he appointed to head a government tax panel - Masaaki Homma - resigned amid reports he was living with a mistress in an apartment subsidised with taxpayers' money.

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