Japan finance minister offers to resign for health reasons: Report

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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TOKYO - Japan's elderly finance minister offered to resign due to health reasons, a report said Tuesday.
Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii, 77, told Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama he would like to step down, Kyodo News agency said, citing no sources. A spokesman for the finance ministry declined to confirm the report.
Fujii, the oldest member of Hatoyama's Cabinet, checked into a hospital on Dec. 28 for rest and health checks. He said he expected a final judgment from doctors in the next day or two. But the finance minister declined to say at a morning news conference Tuesday that he was planning to step down.
"I will respect the decision of the doctors," Fujii said.
The Japanese press reported that he had discussed his health, and whether he would continue to serve, with Hatoyama earlier in the day.
The prime minister said late Tuesday he was aware of Fujii's health issues, but stopped short of saying whether the finance minister will resign.
"He has yet to receive a final judgment from doctors. That's all I can say today. I want him to stay on from now on," Hatoyama told reporters.
Fujii, who has a history of high blood pressure, spent several tough weeks late last year churning out a record 92.29 billion yen ($1 trillion) budget.
Hatoyama has said passing the budget is his top priority this year. It cuts spending on public works but includes large expenditures on social programs like child support and making tuition at public high schools free.
Investors said Fujii's health wouldn't have a big effect on markets or currency. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average finished Tuesday up 0.3 per cent.
Fujii postponed his retirement from politics after the Democratic Party of Japan ended the Liberal Democrats' longtime grip on power in national elections last year.

Organizations: Kyodo News, Democratic Party of Japan, Liberal Democrats

Geographic location: Japan, TOKYO

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