Japanese Official to Quit Post

Staff and Wire Reports

The head of Japan's Environmental Agency said he will resign to take responsibility for protests over comments he made about Japan's role in World War II.

He is the second Japanese Cabinet member to be forced out of office this year over remarks about Japan's role in the war.

Shin Sakurai said he informed Deputy Prime Minister Yohei Kono this morning that he plans to resign, the Kyodo news service reported. It wasn't known when he would formally submit his resignation.

The controversy began Friday, when Sakurai said Japan did not intend to wage a war of aggression and that its policies led to Asia's independence and economic growth.

Hours later, he retracted his statement as "inappropriate" after the South Korean government protested.

Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama sharply rebuked Sakurai for the comment, and apologized to both South Korea and China, which also protested.

In May, Justice Minister Shigeto Nagano was forced to resign after he denied that the Rape of Nanking--in which scholars say between 200,000 and 300,000 people were killed in what is now Nanjing, China--ever occurred.

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