Japanese MP quits over affair with bikini model

Lawmaker Kensuke Miyazaki bowing during yesterday's press conference, where he admitted to having a sexual encounter with a bikini model several days before his wife gave birth to their first child.
Lawmaker Kensuke Miyazaki bowing during yesterday's press conference, where he admitted to having a sexual encounter with a bikini model several days before his wife gave birth to their first child.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • A Japanese politician who made headlines over his plan to take paternity leave quit yesterday after admitting to an affair with a bikini model while his wife was pregnant.

Mr Kensuke Miyazaki, 35, apologised repeatedly at a press conference in Tokyo, where he acknowledged a relationship with another woman that had been reported by a magazine earlier this week.

Mr Miyazaki, who married fellow Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Megumi Kaneko last year, had been criticised by other Members of Parliament and senior party executives after he announced plans to take several weeks off work to bond with his child - a highly unusual step for a Japanese father.

But Mr Miyazaki won the backing of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who supported his trailblazing idea.

In an interview last week, he said that Japanese fathers needed to be more involved in childcare. More paternal involvement would help achieve the government's policy goals of drawing more women into the workforce and tackling Japan's low birth rate, he said.

"I had great expectations for debate on this and there was a gradual build-up of momentum," Mr Miyazaki told reporters. "I can't express how sorry I am that my own inconsiderate actions have poured cold water on that."

He met the woman - who is also a professional kimono dresser - when she was helping Mr Miyazaki and other politicians to dress up in ceremonial garb for the opening of Japan's Parliament last month.

The sexual encounter happened several days before Mr Miyazaki's wife gave birth to their first child.

"I have done such a cruel thing" to my wife, he said.

Only 2.3 per cent of Japanese men take advantage of generous provisions that allow employees to take up to a year off following the birth of a child.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'Japanese MP quits over affair with bikini model'. Print Edition | Subscribe