Japan's 'kingmaker' to resign as MP

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Tokyo (Reuter) - Shin Kanemaru, Japan's political 'kingmaker', will resign his parliamentary seat to quell public outrage over his role in a funds scandal that has rocked the government, Ichiro Ozawa, an aide to the politician, said yesterday.

'Yesterday, Mr Kanemaru was talking about leaving the party,' Kyodo news agency quoted Mr Ozawa as telling political associates. 'But today he told me: 'My departure from the party alone will not quell the public opinion. Let me consider resigning my parliamentary seat' ,' Mr Ozawa said. He said Mr Kanemaru would announce his decision today.

The daily Yomiuri Shimbun said leaders of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) faction controlled by Mr Kanemaru learnt of the decision at a meeting at his home in central Tokyo yesterday. On the strength of his stranglehold on the largest faction of the LDP, Mr Kanemaru has picked prime ministers almost at will over the past few years.

Yet such has been the public outcry over recent revelations that Mr Kanemaru took huge illegal donations from a trucking firm linked to organised crime that even some cabinet ministers this week urged him to quit politics. A dozen younger LDP politicians formed a group to press the case against him. If confirmed, Mr Kanemaru's departure would remove one of the principal supports of the Miyazawa government.