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Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Fresh blow for Japan PM
Yoshiro Mori on last day of campaigning
The gloss has gone off Mr Mori's election success
By Charles Scanlon in Tokyo

A senior Japanese politician has admitted receiving contributions over the legal limit, just three days after a cabinet minister was forced to resign for failing to declare political funds.

The Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hidenao Nakagawa - who serves as deputy to the prime minister - said he had accepted the donations from two businessmen supporters in 1997.

They amounted to more than five times the legally-allowed limit of about $15,000.

The revelation comes as a fresh blow to the Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori, whose popularity is continuing to fall.

It is barely a month since Mr Mori appointed his new cabinet after suffering bruising losses in the last general election.

His efforts to win back the trust of a disillusioned public have so far come to nothing.

Bank scandal

Mr Nakagawa said he had now officially reported the donations and he promised not to accept such large contributions in the future.

But the revelation could hardly have come at a worse time for an already unpopular government, which is still reeling from the resignation at the weekend of the chief bank regulator.

He had accepted $3m in contributions from a leading bank and a property developer.

Mr Mori apologised to the country but admitted that he had known about the donations even before appointing the minister to his post.

The latest opinion poll shows that 60% of the population actively disapproves of Mr Mori's government.

Newspapers have joined in the attack on the prime minister, saying he lacks judgement and has failed to provide the political leadership necessary to combat Japan's deep-seated economic problems.

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See also:

31 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's PM apologises for bank scandal
21 Jun 00 | Business
Japan's economic muddle
13 Mar 00 | Business
Japan shrugs off 'recession'
03 Apr 00 | Business
Japan's economy shakes off worries
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