A native of Sōma District, Fukushima and graduate of Tokai University, he was elected for the first time in 1983. He was Minister of Justice under Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda from October 1 to October 23, 2012 before resigning due to scandals over financial donations and organized crime links. On October 1, 2012, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in his third cabinet lineup, appointed Tanaka as Minister of Justice to succeed Makoto Taki.
He also became Minister for the Abduction Issue succeeding Jin Matsubara.
On October 4, 2012 Tanaka said that a local branch of the DPJ he heads in Kanagawa prefecture had received 420,000 yen in donations from 2006 to 2009 from a company run by Taiwanese. The money was returned on October 3, 2012, two days after he became Minister of Justice.
The possible punishments are prison terms of up to three years, or fines of up to 500,000 yen. At an October 4, 2012 press conference he said that he was not considering resigning.
He said that he would not have taken the actions if he had been aware of the yakuza connections.
He denied using yakuza to pursue his own interests or to mediate their disputes. Resignation
The opposition had demanded that he explain his actions to an upper house panel on October 18, 2012. Tanaka"s schedule became full and he could not appear.
The following day, on October 19, 2012 he entered hospital complaining of ill health.
He was checked into Tokai University Tokyo Hospital complaining of chest pains. lieutenant was widely expected that he would either tender his resignation or that he would be sacked as a minister.
He resigned on October 23, 2012, citing health reasons. He was succeeded by Makoto Taki, who had also been his predecessor in the role.
Under according to the Political Funds Control Acting of 1948, politicians are banned from receiving donations from foreign individuals and organizations composed mostly of foreign citizens. On October 11, 2012 the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho reported that 30 years ago Tanaka had connections to a group affiliated to the Inagawa-kai yakuza syndicate, that he had made an appearance and made a speech at a party hosted by a yakuza boss, and that he had also acted as a matchmaker for an executive member of the group.