Top Japan finance official denies abuse charges

TOKYO: Japan’s top finance bureaucrat denied on Monday a weekly magazine’s allegation that he had sexually harassed female reporters and vowed to sue its publisher for defamation, his ministry said in a statement.
The weekly Shincho magazine said in an issue published last Thursday that Administrative Vice-Finance Minister Junichi Fukuda went drinking with a female reporter recently at a pub near his house and misbehaved with her. It had quoted Fukuda as denying the allegations.
Japan has had few reported “#MeToo” cases about sexual harassment involving public figures. In Japan, victims are often reluctant to speak out for fear of being blamed. The identity of the female reporter has not been disclosed.
A day after the report, the tabloid released an audio recording of what it said was Fukuda making the alleged sexual advance.
The Finance Ministry, in its statement, quoted Fukuda as saying: “I do at times go out for meals with both male and female reporters after working hours, but I have never had the kind of exchange with any female reporter that was reported in the magazine (or that was contained in the audio file).”
The ministry quoted Fukuda as saying he was preparing to sue the publisher, Shinchosha. He apologised to Finance Minister Taro Aso and other members of the ministry for “causing trouble”, and vowed to continue carrying out his duties “with a sense of urgency”. — Reuters