TOKYO, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Japanese agriculture
minister Seiichi Ota said he had offered his resignation to Prime Minister Yasuo
Fukuda over the tainted-rice scandal on Friday.
"I thought I had to make a decision (of resignation) because of what has turned into a big problem for society," Seiichi Ota told a news conference.
Vice Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Toshiro Shirasu has already resigned over the scandal.
Rice traders including Osaka-based Mikasa Foods purchased imported rice tainted with poisonous mold or pesticide residue for non-edible use, such as making glue, from the farm ministry and resold it to other agents for edible use.
The rice had been distributed to 370 firms by Mikasa company and was found being served to thousands of people including schoolchildren and the elderly in nursing homes, sparking public uproar.
According to Japanese media, officials from the agriculture ministry were found have dined and wined by the company.
Japanese government has suspended rice imports and announced new rules to stop the sale of imported rice for industrial use.