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The top Japanese financial bureaucrat resigns on allegations of sexual harassment

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan's leading financial bureaucrat resigned on Wednesday after a weekly magazine said it had sexually harassed several female reporters, the latest blow for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose ratings were hit by a series of scandals.

Japan's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso speaks to reporters at the Ministry of Finance in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo Kyodo made on April 1
8, 2018. Mandatory loan Kyodo / via REUTERS

Finance Minister Taro Aso told reporters he had accepted the resignation of Deputy Minister of Finance Junichi Fukuda.

It's the latest in a series of headaches for Aso and Abe. A steady stream of allegations of alleged nepotism and cover-ups has cast doubt on how long Abe can stay in power.

Fukuda denies the allegations against him, but told reporters that he had resigned because he could not disrupt the ministry's work. He said he still wanted to sue Shincho magazine.

"It's my fault the media report was written about myself while the Treasury Department faces a difficult situation," he said.

"Since the situation after the report made it difficult for me to fulfill my role as Deputy Minister of Administration, I submitted my resignation to finance Minister Aso right now."

He added that he could not remember "Terrible Conversation," reports in the journal.

FILE PHOTO: Japan's Deputy Finance Minister Junichi Fukuda leaves the Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo on April 16, 2018. Mandatory Credit Kyodo / via REUTERS

Japan has reported few "#MeToo" cases of sexual harassment with public figures. The victims often hesitate to speak out for fear of being accused. The identity of female reporters in Fukuda's case was not disclosed. The Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Tuesday that it would continue to investigate allegations of Fukuda by an outside law firm, as the first internal investigation was conducted by Fukuda's subordinates.

She urged female reporters to call and contact the law firm if they were prepared to cooperate in the investigation and set fire to several cabinet members, including Seiko Noda, one of only two women in the Cabinet ,

Fukuda's resignation came just after the resignation of Governor of Niigata Prefecture, home of the world's largest nuclear power plant, about an upcoming journal article about his relationships with women.

Ryuichi Yoneyama, who is single, said some of the funds and gifts he gave to women he dated may be open to misinterpretation and that he resigned to avoid further political "disturbances."

While Abe has made his "Womenomics" programs to mobilize women in the workforce as part of his growth-promoting policy, there are still major gender differences in business and politics.

Abe is currently in the United States for talks with US President Donald Trump, and Aso will leave for an international meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Washington DC on Thursday

report by Tetsushi Kajimoto, authored by Elaine; Arrangement by Nick Macfie

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