Page last updated at 03:01 GMT, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Japan's finance minister Hirohisa Fujii urged to stay

Japan's Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii, 25 December 2009
Hirohisa Fujii has been seen as a champion of fiscal restraint

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said he does not want his finance minister, Hirohisa Fujii, to resign.

Earlier reports suggested Mr Fujii's resignation had been accepted.

Mr Fujii, 77, is an experienced backer of fiscal discipline. It would be a blow to Mr Hatoyama, who took office in September, if he left, analysts say.

The prime minister has promised to shift Japan to the left after half a century of conservative dominance by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Mr Fujii, who is suffering from high blood pressure, was admitted to hospital last week for tests.

He is one of only a few members of the new government with extensive previous experience of administration.

He has been seen as a champion of fiscal restraint, resisting calls from the ruling Democratic Party's (DPJ) coalition partners for more spending despite Japan's huge debt, the BBC's Roland Buerk reports from Tokyo.

The prime minister is already getting a reputation for being indecisive, and is struggling to revive Japan's frail economy and tackle the vast public debt, our correspondent says.

Mr Fujii had told reporters he was exhausted after weeks of wrangling within Japan's governing coalition to finalise the budget.

He was reported to have offered his resignation after a cabinet meeting he had left hospital to attend.

Some reports said the government had accepted Mr Fujii's resignation.

But Mr Hatoyama was quoted on Wednesday as saying that he wanted Mr Fujii to see through his work on the budget.

"But it is a question of his health, so we also have to think about the opinions of the doctors," he added.

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