Page last updated at 06:22 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 07:22 UK

Japan MP resigns after voting for absent colleague

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

Japan's House of Councillors (file image)
Governing MPs said the double vote was unforgivable

An opposition MP has resigned from Japan's Diet after voting twice during a division.

Lawmakers in Japan press a button to cast votes from their seats, and the 75-year-old pressed that of his neighbour who was not in the chamber.

Governing members of parliament suspect Masatoshi Wakabayashi could have done the same in other votes during the day.

Announcing his resignation, Mr Wakabayashi said his colleague had not asked him to vote on his behalf.

"Something must have been wrong with me," he said.

The incident, which ended the 26-year parliamentary career of Mr Wakabayashi, happened during a routine debate about funding for Japan's public broadcaster, NHK.

When a division was called, the opposition member of parliament pressed the voting button on the desk of the man next to him, who was not in the chamber.

Records later showed Mr Wakabayashi had used his own vote too.

His actions were caught on camera.

The governing Democratic Party of Japan submitted a motion to parliament saying Mr Wakabayashi had tried to rig a vote, a "negation of democracy" that "can never be forgiven".

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