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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Official Terminated Over 'Terminator'




TOKYO -- Japan's justice minister stepped down Monday after opposition lawmakers threatened a legislative boycott over his handling of actor Arnold Schwarzenegger's entry into the country without a passport.


Shozaburo Nakamura, 64, offered his resignation Monday morning to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, apologizing for stirring strident protests that paralyzed parliament last week.


The Schwarzenegger flap was only the latest in a string of controversies ensnaring Nakamura, including his criticism of Japan's pacifist constitution and his alleged role in a real estate scandal.


"I am sorry my words and actions hindered the workings of parliament," Nakamura was quoted as saying by the Kyodo News service.


The resignation was the second to hit Obuchi's government since he took office last summer. But the prime minister's rising popularity ratings indicate his government is not in danger of falling.


National broadcaster NHK reported that Obuchi had picked upper-house lawmaker Takao Jinnouchi, 65, as Nakamura's replacement.


"It's unfortunate the situation had to come to this," Obuchi was quoted as saying by Kyodo News agency.


The Schwarzenegger controversy enters on allegations that Nakamura, a fan of the bodybuilder-turned-actor f star of the "Terminator" movies and other action films f who took home ministry documents that let the actor enter Japan last October without a passport.


The documents should have been filed with the ministry, but critics say Nakamura kept them as a souvenir. Nakamura reportedly said an aide neglected to file the paperwork properly.


Two parliamentary committee meetings were canceled Friday because the chief opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, and two smaller parties threatened to boycott them if Nakamura didn't step down. A formal censure motion has also been discussed.


Nakamura gave Schwarzenegger permission to enter the country through an airport in Osaka, in western Japan, on Oct. 27, though he did not have his passport. The actor said later it was stolen just before he left the United States.


Schwarzenegger, who has appeared in Japanese television commercials for instant noodles, beer and cable television, was in Japan to attend a ceremony for a Universal Studios theme park.


The paperwork dispute added to Nakamura's declining popularity. He had been criticized since he went public in January with complaints about Japan's U.S.-written pacifist constitution and America's economic policy. Alleged involvement in a real estate scandal also has tarnished the top law official's image.


Opposition parties welcomed the minister's resignation, while calling on the Obuchi administration to take responsibility for the controversy. Nakamura was "unqualified" to be justice minister, said Tsutomu Hata, a former prime minister and secretary general of the opposition Democratic Party, Kyodo reported. "This calls into question the validity of Obuchi's power itself," Hata was quoted as saying.


In January, Nakamura suggested in a widely reported speech to his ministry that Japan should revise its constitution to allow it more military freedom.


"Japanese are writhing because they cannot revise the constitution, which was imposed by Allied forces so that the country would not be allowed to wage war, defend itself or have an army," Nakamura was quoted as having said.


He later retracted the remark, which angered many Japanese who consider the pacifist constitution a guarantee against the militarist policies that led to the devastating defeat of World War II.