- Scandal emerged day after his fellow-lawmaker wife gave birth
- Resignation fresh blow to Abe following loss of economy czar
A Japanese ruling party lawmaker who drew attention for seeking to take paternity leave said Friday he would resign over an extramarital affair.
Kensuke Miyazaki, 35, bowed and apologized 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.
The scandal is the second to hit Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in weeks, after Akira Amari stepped down as economy minister last month over allegations of financial impropriety.
Miyazaki married fellow LDP lawmaker Megumi Kaneko last year, in what was a second marriage for him. He was criticized 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.
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," Miyazaki told reporters. "I can’t express how sorry I am that my own inconsiderate actions have poured cold water on that." His Facebook page has been flooded with critical comments.
Only 2.3 percent of Japanese men take advantage of generous provisions that allow employees to take up to a year off following the birth of a child, with almost 60 percent of their income paid by an employment insurance system. Female employees are entitled to similar benefits, as well as six weeks’ paid leave ahead of the birth.
Asked about the government’s responsibility for the scandal, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters he welcomed debate on whether lawmakers should be entitled to childcare leave, but that Miyazaki had resigned for reasons resulting from his own behavior.