India appoints ex-law minister to organize visit by Japanese emperor

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has appointed Ashwani Kumar, who resigned as law minister earlier this year for allegedly interfering in the course of justice, as his special envoy for Japan.

As part of his duties, Kumar will make preparations for the upcoming visit of Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. The royal couple is slated to visit India for about seven days from Nov. 30.

Kumar resigned in May following allegations of interference with an investigation into a coal scam involving some high-profile political names.

He will visit Japan, according to an official document, which also revealed that the former minister will enjoy the rank and privileges of a Cabinet minister during his visit.

The exact date has not been finalized, but according to reports Kumar will arrive in Japan in the first week of September.

Kumar has also been tasked with holding "high-level" exchanges with the Japanese leadership and to make preparations for the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India later this year.

Kumar's appointment has raised eyebrows across India's political landscape. An opposition leader said it was a "surprising move" given the accusations against Kumar.

India's Supreme Court has also expressed its discontent over the decision, saying, "The heart of the report into the coal scam was changed" following interference by the minister and other government officials.