Japan's foreign minister Seiji Maehara announced his resignation on Sunday over donations received from a foreign resident in violation of the country's laws.
Maehara -- who had been seen as a likely successor to embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan -- said he would step down after admitting he received several hundred dollars from a restaurant owner of Korean ethnicity.
"I apologise to the Japanese people for stepping down after only six months and provoking distrust over a problem with my political funding, although I have sought to pursue a clean style of politics," said Maehara, 48.
Maehara had earlier met Kan and "announced his intention to resign from his post of foreign minister," said the ministry's assistant press secretary Takeshi Matsunaga in comments.
Quoting Maehara, the official said, "He stated that after careful consideration about his receipt of donations from a foreigner residing in Japan, he decided to leave his office."
Maehara also said that he would resign in order to ensure the passage through the divided Diet legislature of an annual budget bill and supporting legislation, and to ensure Japan can smoothly carry out its foreign policy.