Japanese finance official resigns over sexual harassment allegations

A high-ranking Japanese political figure has resigned in the wake of sex harassment allegations, a further blow to a...

Posted: Apr 19, 2018 1:37 PM
Updated: Apr 19, 2018 1:37 PM

A high-ranking Japanese political figure has resigned in the wake of sex harassment allegations, a further blow to a government beset by scandal.

Junichi Fukuda, administrative vice minister for the Ministry of Finance, said Wednesday that he was leaving his post following the release of recordings containing what a female TV reporter said were sexually harassing remarks he made to her.

The resignation came as Ryuichi Yoneyama, governor of Niigata prefecture, also announced he was stepping down in the wake of accusations he paid students for sex.

Sexual harassment claims

The journalist, who works for the TV Asahi network, recorded a conversation between her and Fukuda following what she alleges was a campaign of harassment by the finance official for a year and a half.

The allegations were published in the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho.

The embattled minister said that he believed the facts as reported were inaccurate and that he "would like to probe (the accusation) through the court."

In parts of the tape made public, a male voice asks: "Can I touch your breasts?" The voice also asks if he can "kiss" the subject and if he can "tie (her) hands." The recording doesn't feature the voice of the reporter making the harassment allegations.

On Wednesday Fukuda said he could not definitively say if it was his voice on the tape and said that he often held meetings with small groups of reporters, or sometimes individuals. The ministry has appointed a lawyer to investigate, but growing public anger has led to demands from opposition politicians for the resignation of Fukuda and his boss, Finance Minister Taro Aso.

Aso had earlier said he had accepted Fukuda's resignation. Since Fukuda is a civil servant, his resignation needs to be approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet -- a move that won't take place until early next week when Aso returns from a G20 meeting in Buenos Aires.

"Vice Minister Fukuda tendered the resignation as he said that he would like to continue probing his innocence over the allegation," Aso said before leaving for Argentina.

"(As) it is difficult to fulfill his responsibility as vice minister in the current environment started from the news report, I will accept this resignation. The decision will be issued after the approval by the Cabinet."

Network to lodge official complaint

The director of TV Asahi's news department, Hiroshi Shinozuka, said that the reporter had asked the network to go public with her allegations, but her bosses had dissuaded her, saying they were concerned the accusations would damage her reputation.

Shinozuka apologized that the media outlet handled the employee claim improperly and said that it would submit an official protest against the Finance Ministry.

"Mr. Fukuda announced his resignation as vice minister, but he denied the allegation of sexual harassment," Shinozuka said at a press conference.

"But we believe that the sexual harassment against our employee is true."

Niigata governor resigns over sex scandal

Fukuda's announcement comes on the heels of the Niigata governor's resignation.

In a press conference Wednesday, Yoneyama, the governor, told reporters he had paid female college students in hopes of gaining their affection.

"I gave (them) gifts and money," said Yoneyama, who came to office on the back of anti-nuclear sentiment over the reopening of a nuclear facility. "The actions caused a misunderstanding. ... I had romantic feelings."

The resignation was sparked when another publication, Shukan Bunshun, reported that the prefectural governor had paid the students 30,000 yen each ($279) several times for sex.

Yoneyama, who is unmarried, said he had met the students on an online dating service and admitted that the payments might be construed as illegal.

He called himself "a middle-aged man who lost his mind."

Yoneyama is not a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, led by Abe.

Abe looks to keep head above water

The scandals come at a particularly low point for the Prime Minister, who faces declining public approval ratings.

Ahead of Abe's trip to meet President Donald Trump in Florida, protesters turned out last weekend in front of Japan's parliament in Tokyo, calling the Prime Minister a liar and demanding his resignation over a corruption scandal that has dogged his premiership for months.

Abe has denied intervening in land sales to ensure preferential treatment for schools close to him and his wife, Akie.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 94021

Reported Deaths: 2846
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6979155
DeSoto542555
Harrison374372
Jackson339967
Madison321286
Rankin319375
Lee261067
Jones242778
Forrest239570
Washington218171
Lafayette209239
Lauderdale2007124
Bolivar179565
Oktibbeha175450
Lamar163534
Neshoba1540103
Panola144527
Sunflower142144
Lowndes140357
Warren138150
Leflore137080
Pontotoc123616
Pike121348
Monroe118965
Scott116425
Copiah116333
Coahoma112827
Holmes109258
Marshall107615
Lincoln106853
Grenada106235
Yazoo103929
Simpson101443
Union97824
Tate95537
Leake94037
Adams92136
Wayne87721
Pearl River86750
Marion84133
Prentiss81517
Covington80922
Alcorn77511
Itawamba77021
Newton75923
Tallahatchie75718
George75113
Winston72519
Tishomingo66137
Chickasaw65624
Tippah64516
Attala64125
Walthall59425
Clay58117
Hancock56421
Jasper55515
Noxubee54315
Clarke53739
Smith52414
Calhoun50612
Tunica48113
Montgomery45520
Claiborne45216
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41814
Perry40918
Quitman3755
Humphreys37315
Stone35711
Greene34617
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32811
Carroll31212
Amite31110
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2439
Benton2201
Franklin1893
Choctaw1795
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131988

Reported Deaths: 2304
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19123337
Mobile13122290
Montgomery8688173
Madison763075
Tuscaloosa7323114
Lee575159
Shelby571950
Baldwin508749
Marshall387943
Calhoun337439
Etowah336547
Morgan321426
Houston272722
Elmore255847
DeKalb237119
St. Clair224335
Walker224380
Talladega207726
Limestone200119
Cullman186218
Dallas174926
Franklin174528
Russell17312
Autauga169124
Lauderdale165333
Colbert160926
Escambia156425
Blount156014
Jackson151611
Chilton150227
Dale133343
Covington131127
Coffee12838
Pike11619
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113242
Clarke105517
Marion94828
Butler91138
Barbour8387
Winston71612
Marengo70119
Lowndes64927
Pickens63814
Bibb63610
Randolph62212
Hale61528
Lawrence59220
Bullock59114
Geneva5814
Monroe5768
Cherokee56916
Clay5527
Washington54913
Perry5386
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52411
Crenshaw52331
Macon47820
Henry4754
Fayette4269
Sumter41819
Lamar3532
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3326
Greene30015
Coosa1653
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 71°
Columbus
Scattered Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Few Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather