Tabloid tracks security chief’s Diet dorm ‘trysts’

by Jun Hongo

Drained by a chain of political money scandals, the Democratic Party of Japan-led coalition came under a fresh attack Thursday by a weekly magazine that accused the chairman of the National Public Safety Commission of shirking his duties by having an “inappropriate tryst” with a woman he is dating.

The latest issue of Shukan Shincho, which hit newsstands the same day, reported that Hiroshi Nakai, a widower, has been dating a Ginza bar hostess in her 30s and gave her a key and “free access” to the special lodgings for lawmakers and their families in Tokyo’s Akasaka district that is financed by taxpayer money.

Nakai’s act does not violate any rules or laws. But the magazine questioned his behavior, arguing that giving free access to someone not officially vetted raises security concerns for the lawmakers in residence, including high-profile ones.

Nakai, 67, was widowed in 1998 and said he has been dating the woman for more than six years.

“I gave her the card key because she came over once a week to clean up my room,” he said.

He apologized to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano on Thursday and said he was “sorry for the commotion.” Asked by reporters if he will step down, the veteran lawmaker said he had no reason to. Hirano reportedly told him to be “more careful.”

Lawmakers are entitled to live in the Lower House facilities for a fraction of the rent that regular apartments in the area command.

Although Nakai said he has no plans to step down, similar scandals have proved the kiss of death for some key lawmakers.

Last May, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshitada Konoike resigned after Shukan Shincho reported that the married Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight took his lover to a spa resort using a special JR pass that lets Diet members ride bullet trains for free.

Nakai, who in his current post oversees the nation’s police forces and responses to natural disasters, represents a single-seat constituency in Mie Prefecture and was elected to an 11th term last year.

Known for having close ties with scandal-tainted DPJ Secretary General Ozawa, Nakai, who also is in charge of dealing with Pyongyang’s past abductions of Japanese, recently made headlines for saying pro-North Korea schools should be excluded from the high school tuition-waiver program.