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Under-fire minister denies he was drunk

JAPANESE Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa yesterday denied that he was drunk at a news conference in Rome after the opposition called for him to be fired.

Nakagawa told reporters that he drank alcohol and took medicine on his flight to Rome for a meeting of Group of Seven finance leaders and central bankers on Friday and Saturday. He said the combination may have affected him badly.

"I drank wine at a party on the previous day but I didn't drink before the news conference," Nakagawa said.

He said he may have taken too much medicine, including cold medicine.

"That is the fact, and I am sorry about it," he said.

At the news conference with Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa, Nakagawa's speech sounded slurred. At one point, Nakagawa, head down and eyes closed, mistook a question for the bank governor as one for him.


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