TOKYO (AFP) - A female Japanese politician has resigned after an audio tape emerged of her violently attacking a male secretary, and reportedly threatening to crush his head with a lead pipe.
Mayuko Toyota, a 42-year-old Harvard graduate and up-and-coming member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), can be heard screaming at the unnamed aide, saying he should die as she mocked his thinning hair.
Her 55-year-old secretary can be heard repeatedly apologising and begging the lawmaker to stop kicking and beating him.
"Don't damage my reputation anymore," Toyota screams, apparently in response to a mistake she claims the man had made.
Major Japanese media, including public broadcaster NHK, named Toyota as the woman heard on the tape. No one picked up the phone at her office on Friday (June 23).
The secretary recorded the exchange, which took place last month inside a car that he was driving, according to a weekly magazine that was given the tape and uploaded on YouTube.
The magazine wrote a story that claimed Toyota had threatened to crush the man's head with a pipe in a separate incident, and made references to the hypothetical rape and murder of his daughter.
An LDP official said Toyota submitted a letter of resignation on Thursday, but it was not clear if it would be accepted.
Toyota has been hospitalised due to an "unstable mental condition", an LDP official said - a not uncommon turn of events for a Japanese politician at the centre of a crisis.
The incident marks the latest in a string of scandals involving younger LDP members, including one who quit over an extramarital affair and another who quit over his financial dealings.