Yoshimasa Hayashi, considered a possible replacement for Japan's Economy Minister Akira Amari who has been accused of accepting bribes and faces opposition calls to resign, said he must be ready for anything but wants Amari to remain in his post.
Hayashi, deputy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's tax panel, is a veteran politician who has previously served as economy minister. "As a senior member of the party, you have to be ready for anything any time," Hayashi said in an interview with Reuters. "It's the prime minister's decision who replaces him if he steps down. I want him to continue in his post," he said in response to questions on whether he would be willing to replace Amari. Amari is expected to hold a news conference on Thursday to offer an explanation over accusations he had taken bribes, a top government spokesman said, suggesting that a decision over his future is imminent.Amari has said he has done nothing illegal and that he was told by Abe to fulfil his duty as minister. Amari, a core member of premier Shinzo Abe's economic policy team, is under fire over a media report that he and his aides had accepted money from a construction company in exchange for helping the firm receive compensation for disputes over land ownership and waste removal at a public works site.