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Paternity leave trailblazer Miyazaki quits over affair

by

Staff Writer

Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker and paternity leave trailblazer Kensuke Miyazaki on Friday quit his seat after admitting to an extramarital affair in a major blow to the push for reform to child care leave.

Speaking at a news conference, where he also gave a deep bow, Miyazaki said, “I am sorry that I have deepened voter distrust of politics by doing something that deviated from my promise.”

“I have decided to step down as a lawmaker.”

In December, Miyazaki made worldwide headlines after announcing he would take time out once his wife, fellow LDP member Megumi Kaneko, gave birth in what was believed to be a first for a male lawmaker in Japan.

The move attracted pushback from members of his own conservative party, but was supported by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

However, Miyazaki’s image as a devoted husband was this week in tatters after tabloid Shukan Bunshun ran an article Wednesday alleging he had an affair with a bikini model, identified as Mayu Miyazawa, just six days before Kaneko gave birth to a baby boy on Feb. 5.

Miyazaki, who was elected from the Kyoto No.3 district, said Friday he was the one who initiated the tryst in Kyoto with the model, whom he said he had met in early January.

In a further revelation, the lawmaker also acknowledged without elaborating that the model was not the only woman he had cheated on his wife with since marrying in May last year.

“I did something very cruel to my wife,” he said. “I will spend the rest of my life making it up to her.”

Sayaka Osakabe, the founder of Matahara Net, a support group for pregnant working women who have experienced unfair treatment at work, told The Japan Times Friday that Miyazaki’s scandal may aggravate unfounded public prejudice against male workers who want to take paternity leave and give some of Japan’s most conservative employers a good reason to mock, or even harass them.

From now on, “it’s possible that you file for paternity leave, only to end up being ridiculed by your boss who may joke you’re trying to use such leave as an excuse to commit adultery,” Osakabe, who had met with Miyazaki to discuss the paternity issue, said.

Miyazaki said at his news conference that he was “deeply sorry” that his “reckless behavior” may sway public opinion against men who want to take child care leave.

But he also reaffirmed his stance on the need for greater male participation in child-rearing.

“Times have changed … We should no longer make women alone juggle the burden of working, giving birth and then raising the children,” he said. “As a lawmaker, I wanted to set an example and change the atmosphere in society.”

Abe, who has made drawing more women into the workforce one of the linchpins of his Abenomics growth strategy, has not commented on Miyazaki’s resignation so far.

But he previously said of the lawmaker’s decision to take paternity leave, despite opposition from some senior party members: “There may be divided opinions but (what I’m doing is always) supported by half and opposed by the other half.” He went on to add, “That is what a politician is about.”

Public opinion also appeared to support the move as an attempt to change the nation’s entrenched “men at work, women at home” mindset.

Miyazaki, though, who tendered his resignation to the Lower House, said Friday he hoped to “make a comeback” to the world of politics, acknowledging that he faces an uphill battle.

“I perhaps don’t even deserve to harbor such a wish, but it is true that I still have a passion for my nation and the society,” he said, adding he believes the LDP is the best party to lead the nation.

A by-election is expected to be held in April. Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Kenta Izumi expressed his intention to run for Miyazaki’s electoral district.

  • fromjapan

    “Amari scandal” was forgotten by this scandal in Japan.

  • shatonbytories

    Facepalm. And here was i bigging him up to my colleagues after I’d taken 2 months paternity leave with some gripes and subsequent attitude changes to me. Look, the LDP and Abe want more of this, I said, and I know those of you against me taking time off will by definition be big fans of both……..
    But now the meme that he is a frivolous work-shy fop with no sense responsibility will take hold even more, and by extension…….. The sexist middle aged salaryman will conveniently forget his behavior going to opai bars and mama shops and wining and dining hostesses, as will Shukanshi Bushun about a fair few of the misigonist parties some if the LDP elders attend.

  • Jacob Israel

    Marriage woes are difficult to judge from the outside looking in, although when these sorts of scandals go public, very few people take time to consider before rendering judgment.

    I cannot side with Miyazaki. I cannot side with Kaneko. It is their marriage, and what people — married and un-married — fail to understand is this: marriages contain many secrets, no matter how much you — (not you, specifically, Genius) — think you know about this person, or that person.

    Basically, what we are seeing is the public scandal, and nothing else. Perhaps, this guy Miyazaki is a real jerk behind closed doors. Perhaps, this Kaneko gal is a real jerk behind closed doors. We do not know.

    Also, let’s talk about infidelity. Of course, sexual intercourse outside of marriage is considered a deal-breaker, for most people. But also, what about insurance policies? Sometimes, a man will keep lines of communication open with several women, just in case his current relationship fails. Sometimes, a woman will keep lines of communication open with several men, just in case her relationship fails. These are what I like to call “insurance policies,” and they can, sometimes, compel a married man or a married woman to cheat. Is an insurance policy as bad as cheating? Do prenuptial agreements contradict the idea of “true love?”

    What I can appreciate is Miyazaki’s decision to face the scandal head-on. There was no denial on his part, it seems.

    We are in the age of international democracy. Of course, women have their rights. Of course, men have their rights. In this age of gender parity, feminists must back off the man-shaming impulse that plagues their movement. This is not to suggest that Kaneko was unfaithful to her husband. But what if she was?

    Did you guys ever used to watch the television show Married With Children? Remember the episode where, at the end, Al Bundy says something like, “Remember: it’s only cheating if you get caught.” Do you agree, or disagree?

    Other factors can also compel a married man or married woman to cheat. What if, as a husband, your wife puts her hands on you? What if, as a wife, your husband puts his hands on you? Or what if, during a verbal argument — after all, it’s freedom of speech, right? — where both parties are insulting one another, one person says, “Eff you!” and the other person grabs the biggest kitchen knife she can find, and points it very close to her spouse’s face, neck, or chest? Cheating is bad, yes; but what I’m pointing out is that none of us are really privy to everything that happened in the private space of their marriage.

    Now, the husband is suffering public humiliation. The wife is also suffering public humiliation, even if she, in fact, has assumed the role of the victim. The child, having no concept of what shame is, may one day grow up and have to ask Mom, or Dad, “So, why’d you guys break up?” if it ever comes to that.

    If it ever comes to divorce, then what else? The child’s in school. Even if both parents are active in the child’s life, you’ll still have those jerk kids who make fun of kids from “single-parent” households. Stuff like that.

    All things considered, this is something that only Miyazaki and Kaneko can sort through. Even if they had hidden cameras in their home, with microphones and all, there is still no way for outsiders to be able to weigh in on, exactly, what transpired. We can form opinions, and that’s all.

    • Jacob Israel

      Another possibility is that Miyazaki and Kaneko were seen by many as a “power couple” and, because of that, somebody — not sure, who; don’t care to find out, really — actively sought to sabotage their marriage. Of course, here, we begin to venture into the realm of conspiracy theory, and I got over that stuff when I was, maybe, 18 or 19 years of age.

    • Jacob Israel

      Another possibility is that Miyazaki and Kaneko were seen by many as a “power couple” and, because of that, somebody — not sure, who; don’t care to find out, really — actively sought to sabotage their marriage. Of course, here, we begin to venture into the realm of conspiracy theory, and I got over that stuff when I was, maybe, 18 or 19 years of age.

    • 151E

      I agree with the gist of what your saying. Marriages are often complicated messy things.

    • A.J. Sutter

      Having once been in a marriage that outsiders perceived as happy when it was not, I agree with your first paragraph. There is a solution, though: get out. (Probably his wife and certainly her family are thinking about this: if he’s being prophetic at all when he says “I will spend the rest of my life making it up to her,” it’s probably only with regard to his financial status, not his conjugal one.) Moreover, there are many distinguishing aspects of Miyazaki’s behavior that make him decidedly undeserving of sympathy.

      For one thing, his isn’t a case of marrying one person while being in love with another, or of falling in love with someone else at all. He had affairs with several women, all within the space of less than 9 months. (Note, BTW, that the birth of the child is 9 months or less after the May marriage: the rumor is that this was a shotgun wedding.)

      For another, he seems to have been a self-serving opportunist all along: this is his second-marriage, and just as his current wife comes from a politically connected family, his ex also came from wealth and/or power. He himself has no connection to his home district, having been “parachuted” into it by the LDP, and seems to regard politics as just a great way to make a far-above-average living.

      Third and worst of all is the incredibly crass, utterly shameless hypocrisy of a guy who actively seeks publicity by passing himself off as a concerned father, at the same time he’s cheating on his wife.

      The fact that Miyazaki owned up to it quickly and resigned from the Diet is no mitigation. The average cheating spouse who feels remorse or who admits an affair when caught doesn’t have a team of journalists dangling evidence over him or her, as this guy does. Nor does the average person in Japan have the PM speak their wedding. Abe was losing face with every second that Miyazaki was warming a seat in the Lower House, and when the scandal broke he made some very irritated comment about how politicians need the public trust. So certainly Miyazaki was told anyway that the party wouldn’t support him in the next election. Far from being virtuous, it was simply the case that resistance was futile.

      His wife, on the other hand, seems to have made sincere efforts to build her political career (albeit with her dad’s help). While she might be faulted for choosing to have a child during a Diet session when TPP and other important national issues — possibly including constitutional amendments — ought to be debated (if Abe allows that), she doesn’t seem to deserve the train wreck she’s been handed. And what’s going to be the impact on the child? I hope the press leave the two of them alone.

  • Jacob Israel

    Marriage woes are difficult to judge from the outside looking in, although when these sorts of scandals go public, very few people take time to consider before rendering judgment.

    I cannot side with Miyazaki. I cannot side with Kaneko. It is their marriage, and what people — married and un-married — fail to understand is this: marriages contain many secrets, no matter how much you — (not you, specifically, Genius) — think you know about this person, or that person.

    Basically, what we are seeing is the public scandal, and nothing else. Perhaps, this guy Miyazaki is a real jerk behind closed doors. Perhaps, this Kaneko gal is a real jerk behind closed doors. We do not know.

    Also, let’s talk about infidelity. Of course, sexual intercourse outside of marriage is considered a deal-breaker, for most people. But also, what about insurance policies? Sometimes, a man will keep lines of communication open with several women, just in case his current relationship fails. Sometimes, a woman will keep lines of communication open with several men, just in case her relationship fails. These are what I like to call “insurance policies,” and they can, sometimes, compel a married man or a married woman to cheat. Is an insurance policy as bad as cheating? Do prenuptial agreements contradict the idea of “true love?”

    What I can appreciate is Miyazaki’s decision to face the scandal head-on. There was no denial on his part, it seems.

    We are in the age of international democracy. Of course, women have their rights. Of course, men have their rights. In this age of gender parity, feminists must back off the man-shaming impulse that plagues their movement. This is not to suggest that Kaneko was unfaithful to her husband. But what if she was?

    Did you guys ever used to watch the television show Married With Children? Remember the episode where, at the end, Al Bundy says something like, “Remember: it’s only cheating if you get caught.” Do you agree, or disagree?

    Other factors can also compel a married man or married woman to cheat. What if, as a husband, your wife puts her hands on you? What if, as a wife, your husband puts his hands on you? Or what if, during a verbal argument — after all, it’s freedom of speech, right? — where both parties are insulting one another, one person says, “Eff you!” and the other person grabs the biggest kitchen knife she can find, and points it very close to her spouse’s face, neck, or chest? Cheating is bad, yes; but what I’m pointing out is that none of us are really privy to everything that happened in the private space of their marriage.

    Now, the husband is suffering public humiliation. The wife is also suffering public humiliation, even if she, in fact, has assumed the role of the victim. The child, having no concept of what shame is, may one day grow up and have to ask Mom, or Dad, “So, why’d you guys break up?” if it ever comes to that.

    If it ever comes to divorce, then what else? The child’s in school. Even if both parents are active in the child’s life, you’ll still have those jerk kids who make fun of kids from “single-parent” households. Stuff like that.

    All things considered, this is something that only Miyazaki and Kaneko can sort through. Even if they had hidden cameras in their home, with microphones and all, there is still no way for outsiders to be able to weigh in on, exactly, what transpired. We can form opinions, and that’s all.

  • Christina Tsuchida

    Despite the disappointing linking of the Diet member’s misconduct with his good choice of paternity leave (it is not only irrelevant, but actually contrary action–paternity leave was FOR his wife!), I am refreshed by Japan’s continuing practice of weeding out marital-oath-breakers from public office. Compare French former President Mitterrand: when caught with an illegitimate child, he was quoted as saying (Eng. trans.) “So what?” He did not step down. Was this not a reason for so-called muslims to brand France as promiscuous?

  • http://godfather.wikia.com/wiki/Michael_Corleone The Don Michael Corleone

    On the bright side of things, Becky could enjoy some measure of peace now the heat is switched toward this guy.

  • Sutono Mardi

    So, what’s wrong ? Japs is the porn nation, everyday talks is porn

  • blondein_tokyo

    Really, Japan? We can now expect managers to deny legally allowed paternity leave, all becasuse a lawmaker who took leave fooled around on his wife?
    I can’t feel a shred of sympathy for people when I hear things like this. There doesn’t seem to be any common sense.