Japan's foreign minister fired over squabble

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

TOKYO -- Makiko Tanaka, Japan's popular but unpredictable foreign minister, was fired by the prime minister Tuesday for feuding with her deputy and stalling legislation to lift the economy.

The deputy also was fired.

With her fiery promises to fight bureaucratic incompetence and corruption, Tanaka, 58, has been a key reason Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has enjoyed high public approval ratings since he swept to power last April.

But Tanaka has also been a polarizing force -- snubbing meetings with foreign dignitaries, squabbling with bureaucrats over personnel choices and belittling deputies in public.

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