Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s woes continue as his top finance bureaucrat resigned on Wednesday following a weekly magazine’s expose that he had sexually harassed several female reporters. Abe’s ratings have been suffering after a series of scandals.
Administrative Vice Finance Minister Junichi Fukuda has resigned over the sexual harassment allegations. Finance Minister Taro Aso had accepted his resignation.
Fukuda denies the allegation against him. He insists that he is only resigning because he does not want to further disrupt the ministry’s work. But he he is bent on suing the magazine that came out with the report, Shincho.
Fukuda also denied remembering the “terrible conversation” reported in the magazine.
The Finance Ministry said that it would continue its probe of the matter through an external law firm. The initial internal fact-finding had been carried out by Fukuda’s subordinate.
The investigation is urging female reporters to come forward and get in touch with the law firm if they want to participate in the investigation.
Japans has few reports of “#MeToo” cases about sexual harassment involving public figures. Victims are often hesitant to speak out and share their sufferings for fear of being blamed in the end.
The identity of the female reporters in Fukuda’s case has not been revealed.
Fukuda’s resignation follows closely the exit of the governor of Niigata prefecture, home to the world’s largest nuclear power plant. Ruichi Yoneyama resigned over an another impending magazine story about his questionable relations with women. The single man admitted that some of the mone and gifts he gave women could be open to misinterpretation. He also resigned to avoid more political turmoil for Abe’s administration.
The sexual harassment allegations against Fukuda is just the latest in a line of seeming headaches for Aso and Abe. Recently, they have also dealt with suspected cronyism and cover-ups.
Abe is currently in the U.S. for talks with President Trump while Aso is scheduled to leave on Thursday for an international meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Washington D.C.