The state minister in charge of Okinawa Prefecture and the Northern Territories decided to resign from his post on Feb. 27 after suffering a suspected stroke and being hospitalized.

It is believed that Tetsuma Esaki, 74, will step down soon so that the minister's public duties, including Diet sessions, will not be impeded due to his hospital stay and treatment.

The government is planning to replace Esaki with Teru Fukui, 64, former state minister in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on Feb. 27 with Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, to confer on the appointment.

Esaki went to see a doctor on the night of Feb. 19 complaining of feeling ill. He was immediately hospitalized for a suspected minor stroke and was diagnosed as suffering a transient cerebral ischemic attack.

On Feb. 26, he was hospitalized again for a further check and was told that he required an additional hospital stay and home treatment.

Esaki was appointed to the ministerial post in the Cabinet reshuffle announced on Aug. 3.

He become embroiled in controversy soon after when he told reporters that he was an "amateur" involving issues with the Northern Territories, islands off Hokkaido that were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War II and claimed by Tokyo.