Shinzo Abe

Liberal Democrat rising star Takeshi Tokuda felled by sex scandal

Abe vowed to appoint a cleaner team, yet picked Takeshi Tokuda, alleged to have raped a minor

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 4:45am


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Following his father's footsteps into politics, Takeshi Tokuda was seen as a rising star of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

But a sex scandal that erupted this week has seen a rapid fall from grace for Tokuda and has caused embarrassment for the government, which was returned to power less than two months ago with promises of righting the many wrongs of the previous administration.

Tokuda, the parliamentary secretary for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, resigned with no warning on Monday but declined to give a reason.

By the middle of the week, it had become apparent that Tokuda's abrupt decision to step down was because one of the nation's tabloids had enough evidence to run a story alleging he raped a minor in a hotel nine years ago.

The Shukan Shincho magazine has alleged in its latest edition that in February 2004, Tokuda encouraged a girl aged 19 - under Japanese law, a person only reaches adulthood at the age of 20 - to drink at a restaurant and bar in the Akasaka district of Tokyo until she was drunk and then "forcefully" had sex with her in a nearby hotel.

At the time, Tokuda was 31 and working as a political secretary to his father, Torao Tokuda, who had a seat in the Lower House of the Diet and headed the Tokushukai medical company.

The woman later filed a claim for damages with the Tokyo District Court demanding ¥20 million in compensation.

Tokuda - who was married at the time of the alleged rape - managed to keep the incident out of the papers and reportedly offered the woman ¥5 million to settle the issue.

It was not until three years later that the matter was closed when he paid her ¥10 million in compensation.

The Sankei Shimbun, another tabloid title, has added fuel to the fire by reporting that ¥8 million of the total was provided by Tokushukai, Japan's largest medical conglomerate, which operates 66 hospitals across the country. The magazine claims Tokuda has never formally apologised to the woman and claims the sex was consensual.

Tokuda has said he is unable to discuss the reasons for his resignation as a result of an agreement with the "other person"."I apologise to the public for causing trouble in such a manner," he wrote in a blog.

First elected to the Diet in 2005 from a constituency in Kagoshima prefecture, Tokuda has not resigned from the Liberal Democratic Party and retains his position at Tokushukai.

Opposition parties - still licking their wounds from their resounding defeat in December's general election - have so far declined to ask pointed questions over the scandal and the appropriateness of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promoting Tokuda to his former role.

A series of scandals during Abe's previous term as prime minister helped make his administration brief.

On September 27, 2007 - one year to the day since he took the post - Abe announced his resignation after being weakened by the resignation nine months previously of Genichiro Sata, over a financial scandal, and then in July 2007 by Defence Minister Fumio Kyuma, who left under a cloud for suggesting the US was justified in dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.