Monday, 23 July, 2018

Top Japanese Official Resigns Over Sexual-Harassment Allegations

Japan’s #MeToo moment Top bureaucrat in finance ministry resigns over sexual harassment allegations Junichi Fukuda | JIJI PRESS AFP
Patty Aguilar | 19 April, 2018, 12:39

Japan's most senior finance ministry bureaucrat has resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct, in what is being described as the country's #MeToo moment.

According to the report, Fukuda said, "Can I give you a hug?" and "Can I touch your breasts?"

Mr Junichi Fukuda has denied a magazine report he harassed several women, but calls for him to step aside have grown in recent days, and Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Wednesday that he had accepted the bureaucrat's resignation.

Fukuda's resignation came less than a year after he took on the role as the ministry's top bureaucrat and at a time when the ministry has been under fire for a number of improprieties, including a cronyism scandal implicating Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "Shall we have an affair once the budget is approved?"

Abe is now in the United States for talks with U.S. President Donald Trump, and Aso is set to leave on Thursday for an global meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Washington D.C. But he added that Fukuda could not be held accountable for sexual misconduct until the remarks' context and the alleged victim are known.

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The remarks were on the audio clip that was released last week, Kyodo News reported Tuesday. "But at least I have no recollection of making an outrageous conversation like that", he said.

The finance ministry has launched an investigation and is urging the alleged victim to come forward, saying it needs to hear from both sides to determine whether there was sexual misconduct.

"Because no victim has come out, there is only a wrongdoer who has been put on the spot, and it's a one-sided story", Aso said.

Ryuichi Yoneyama, who is single, said some of the money and presents he gave women he dated could be open to misinterpretation and that he was resigning to avoid further political "turmoil". Victims are often reluctant to speak out for fear of being blamed.

She claims Yamaguchi raped her in a hotel room in 2015 after they had met for a meal and drinks to discuss a job opportunity.

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