INTRO: Japan's Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa has retired from his job after appearing to be drunk at a G7 news conference.
MOREINFO: Nakagawa told a group of reporters he was resigning for health reasons. Economics Minister Kaoru Yosano will succeed him and there's not expected to be any policy changes. The resignation somes as the Prime Minister's public support is crashing. His conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is in danger of losing the next election after more than half a century of almost unbroken rule.
He was hoping to hang on but in the end allegations of drunkeness forced him to go immediately.
Shoichi Nakagawa is no longer Japan's Finance Minister.
(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE FINANCE MINISTER SHOICHI NAKAGAWA, SAYING:
"Due to personal reasons I have just tendered my resignation to the Prime Minister."
These photos were taken during a recent G7 news conference in Rome.
Nakagawa slurred his words and at one point appeared to fall asleep.
He denied being drunk saying he had merely had a few sips of wine.
He said medicine he had taken for a cold was to blame.
Japan's Prime Minister had stood by Nakagawa.
(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER TARO ASO SAYING:
"Even right now I believe I had chosen a great guy for the job, but as mentioned before it is regrettable that such things as his physical condition resulted in this."
Tara Aso's popularity is currently at an all time low.
His Liberal Democratic party is in danger of losing the next election after more than half a century of rule.
He was quick to appoint a replacement for Nakagawa.
Economics Minister Kaoru Yosano will step into his shoes and there's unlikely to be any changes to policy.
Sonia Legg, Reuters.