A high-ranking member of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s cabinet resigned abruptly on Monday, marking the first such instance since the premier was elected in last December. Takeshi Tokuda, a parliamentary secretary for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, was said to be involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with an unnamed woman, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at press conference.
Prime Minster Abe’s official comment was that the resignation of Tokuda, who held the third-highest position within the ministry, was “unfortunate but cannot be helped.” Tokuda released his own statement later Monday afternoon that included an apology for disappointing the public, the Japanese government, and his fellow Liberal Democratic Party members. The 41 year old politician has noticeably left out any explanation or details about this relationship that has forced him to resign. Observers believe he is trying to spare any potential humiliation or blowback on the unknown woman, with Tokuda himself saying that he cannot disclose any more because of the relationship.
Secretary Suga told the press that it was his understanding that Tokuda’s troubles were not illegal, and that it wasn’t necessary for him to quit. However, as Prime Minister Abe’s first term in office, from 2006 to 2007, was filled with scandal-related resignations, the Cabinet was quick to accept Tokuda’s decision in order to minimize the impact and protect their relatively high approval ratings since December. Members of the opposing Democratic Party of Japan are said to be already anticipating to press the issue at the next Parliamentary hearing in order to get a better explanation. Such moves are surely the sign of either having inside information or being eager to make a big deal out of nothing.