Asia Minute: Top Japanese Bureaucrat Resigns Over Sexual Harassment Allegations

Apr 19, 2018

Japan's Ministry of Finance building
Credit Rs1421 / Wikimedia Commons

The top career official in Japan’s Ministry of Finance has resigned over allegations of sexual harassment. But the official is still contending that he has done nothing wrong. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Japan’s vice minister of finance denies allegations he sexually harassed female reporters. But Junichi Fukuda said he’s resigning because the charges have made it impossible to carry out his job.

A Japanese weekly magazine has reported Fukuda made sexually suggestive comments to female reporters at a news conference Wednesday; Fukuda said he will sue the magazine.

Late Wednesday night, TV Asahi said one of its female reporters was harassed by Fukuda — adding that she also recorded some of the comments as evidence.

The ministry had already come under criticism for its handling of the case, including suggesting that any woman who had been harassed cooperate with an internal ministry investigation and consult an outside law firm with close ties to the ministry.

One opposition politician said the message of the ministry’s advice was that, quote, “Japan will become a country where sexual harassment is allowed.”

Diet of Japan
Credit Wiiii / Wikimedia Commons

Another politician said “the ministry deserves criticism for organizationally hiding the sexual harassment and putting pressure on its victims.”

The Finance Ministry has already been under fire for several other scandals—including changing the documentation of a sale of state-owned land to a school operator with ties to the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.