Scandal-hit lawmaker Yoshikawa urged to resign

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, standing, speaks at a meeting of the Upper House Audit Committee on Monday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight urged House of Representatives member Takeru Yoshikawa on Monday to surrender his parliamentary seat, after he resigned from the Japanese ruling party last week over a scandal.

“I urge [Yoshikawa] to quit as a lawmaker,” Hiroshige Seko, the party’s secretary-general in the House of Councillors said at a general meeting of LDP Upper House lawmakers.

In last October’s Lower House general election, Yoshikawa was given an LDP proportional representation seat for the Tokai bloc after being defeated in a single-seat constituency in Shizuoka Prefecture.

“We had him quickly leave the LDP,” Seko said, while pointing out that the proportional representation seat given to Yoshikawa belongs to the party. Yoshikawa’s resignation from the LDP was accepted Friday.

According to Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Post, Yoshikawa last month dined out with a female university student, who, at 18, is under the legal drinking age, gave her alcohol and paid her ¥40,000 in cash.

Noting that the current regular Diet session is slated to end Wednesday and that an Upper House election is approaching, Seko said, “It’s very regrettable that there is a lawmaker who has committed such inappropriate acts.”

Other ruling coalition lawmakers joined Seko in urging the scandal-tainted lawmaker to resign soon, apparently seeking to avoid any repercussions with the approach of the Upper House election this summer.

“Everyone shares Seko’s thoughts,” a senior LDP official said. “It is especially true for Upper House lawmakers.”

“If he were one of our party members, he would have stepped down immediately,” an official from Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, said. “We want him to quit while the damage is limited.”

A lawmaker who has attracted such negative public attention must provide an explanation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, the top Japanese government spokesman, said at a press conference Monday.

The ruling bloc hopes to minimize the impact of the scandal as it also needs to deal with sexual harassment allegations against Lower House Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda, who is from the LDP.

Some are seeking Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s action to prompt Yoshikawa to quit as a lawmaker. A middle-ranking member from the LDP faction led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “The Abe government would have forced him to resign immediately.”

Yoshikawa belonged to the Kishida-led LDP faction, and the scandal is seen as a blow to the incumbent prime minister.

“He has left the party but has not given any explanation to the public,” Kishida said at a meeting of the Upper House Audit Committee Monday. “It is important for him to be fully accountable.”

On the sexual harassment allegations against Hosoda, the prime minister said that he believes an appropriate explanation will be given.