Disgraced former finance minister found dead

Former Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, who was forced to resign after appearing drunk at a G7 news conference earlier this year, was found dead in his Tokyo home. The cause of his death has not yet been determined.


AFP - Japan's former finance minister Shoichi Nakagawa, who was forced to resign over his apparently drunken behaviour at a meeting of world powers, has been found dead at his home, police and news reports said Sunday.

"We were informed that former finance minister Nakagawa has been found dead, but we are still unaware of further details," said a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.

Nakagawa, 56, was found dead in a bedroom at his home in Tokyo's residential distrct of Setagaya, Jiji Press news agency and other media said, adding that the cause of death was not immediately unknown.

Nakagawa, a close ally of then prime minister Taro Aso, was incoherent and slurred his speech at a news conference in February after the Group of Seven talks in Rome amid the global economic crisis.

Nakagawa, a heavyweight in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said he had sipped some wine with lunch before the press conference but blamed jet lag and cold medicine for his drowsiness.

The debacle dealt a blow to Aso, who resigned last month after his conservative LDP suffered a massive defeat against Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan in general elections in August.

Nakagawa, who had made no secret about his fondness for drinking, promised to swear off alcohol ahead of the elections, but lost his seat in his constituency in Hokkaido, northern Japan.

His father was also an LDP heavyweight who was found dead in 1983 in a hotel room. The death was later ruled to be suicide.

Nakagawa joined the Industrial Bank of Japan in 1978 after graduating from the elite University of Tokyo. He spent five years at the bank, which is now part of the Mizuho financial group.

Nakagawa had triggered controversy with strong criticism of China and calls for Japan -- the only nation to have suffered an atomic attack -- to consider developing nuclear weapons.

He was also known for being pro-Taiwan, admiring independence-minded former president Lee Teng-hui. Beijing regards the island as part of Chinese territory.

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