Ex Japanese minister found dead

TOKYO: A former Japanese finance minister who stepped down after appearing to be drunk at an overseas news conference was found dead in his home Sunday, police said.

The cause of Shoichi Nakagawa's death was under investigation, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo police said. His body was found by his wife in the bedroom of their Tokyo home, she said on condition of anonymity due to police policy.

The 56-year-old Nakagawa caused an uproar when he appeared to be drunk at a news conference during a meeting of Group of Seven financial leaders in Rome in February.

It was widely seen as a major embarrassment for the Japanese government as international news programs repeatedly played video footage of Nakagawa slurring his speech and looking sleepy.

He resigned as finance minister shortly afterward, then lost his seat in parliament in the Aug. 30 nationwide elections.

He denied he had been drunk and said he had taken cold medicine. But the opposition demanded his resignation.

Nakagawa had been a lawmaker from the northernmost island of Hokkaido with the Liberal Democratic Party, which had ruled Japan almost continuously for the last half-century.

The Liberal Democrats lost to the Democrats, who now rule Japan in a coalition.