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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.

    • GBR48

      Not really. There are just so many LDP scandals that they only get a week or two each before the next one.

      I feel sorry for his wife. This story has trended globally and she can hardly retire from the public sphere given her job. I hope she squeezes every last Yen out of the creep in a divorce settlement and finds someone decent as a husband and father to her child.

      As for returning to politics. It’s about trust. Go find a different job. You’ve got nigh-on two decades of maintenance payments to earn, so try not to spend too much of it on love hotels.

  • 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.

    • Sam Gilman

      Well put. Great username, btw.

      • shatonbytories

        Thanks, and thanks.

  • 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

        These are great points. I am not so inclined to feel sympathy for either husband or wife, but rather the child. Ultimately, if both parents genuinely love the child, they will strive to co-parent, regardless of whether or not they cohabitate. These issues are so foggy, and I’m just an outsider looking at Miyazaki and Kaneko’s public scandal as objectively as possible.
        Where you say “[h]is wife, on the other hand, seems to have made sincere efforts to build her political career” is where I humbly disagree. Yes, perhaps, it has been with the help of her Dad. But isn’t this nepotism? And isn’t nepotism a no-no in respectable democracy? Here, I am not judging. If she benefited politically with the help of her family, good for her. This is not unlike pointing to Miyazaki’s first marriage, and how his career, on the other hand, reeks of opportunism.
        That being said, I do not disagree with you. It’s just that: it’s some kind of marriage that I do not have all the details about, and my intent is to abstain from bias toward either husband or wife.
        It may seem as if Miyazaki is being scapegoated, but in reality, he and Kaneko are being scapegoated.
        It is unfair to ask, “Well, he cheated on her. What did she do to deserve that?” Just as it is unfair in instances of rape to say, “Well, she was raped. How was she dressed? Did she invite the rape?” It is in the best interests of both involved parties to soul search, without lusting for reprisal, or tallying up who had the most “wrongs” throughout the marriage.
        In other news, some scientists recently proposed that the universe began when two black holes collided, each black hole being relatively tiny, and yet both containing a combined mass of approximately 65 suns. Isn’t that something to conceptualize, within the context of marriage? Not saying or suggesting this or that. Just saying.
        And then, there are certain species on our planet — in the animal kingdom, if you wish to call it that — where the male and female mate, and immediately go their separate ways.
        Also, several anthropologists are of the persuasion that monogamy is not natural.
        What does all of this mean? Well, I for one, believe in the concept of monogamy and true love. It’s out there. Because of human nature, however, and mankind/womankind’s inability to, sometimes, restrain passion, we experience break ups and divorce. Further than that, it’s not always about restraining passion; but rather, one partner’s desire to control the other, mixed with the frustration of knowing that, ultimately, this is not possible.
        Back to Miyazaki and Kaneko. Babies change everything. Sometimes, the father becomes an overbearing control freak. Sometimes, the mother becomes an overbearing control freak. The mother is not the sole creator. The father is not the sole creator. The mother and father are co-creators. And if you believe in God, neither mother nor father are co-creators, but God, ultimately, is the creator, and the mother and father are mere vessels of God’s creative power. Concerning the child — (and this is not speaking to Miyazaki and Kaneko, but all parents) — it should be noted that parents, oftentimes, claim ownership of the child. And yes, to an extent, there is some form of ownership of the child. But, more realistically, and better put: the parents are there for the child’s nourishment and nurturing, and not quite exactly to own the child. What is possession? Possession can be many different things. It can be ownership, or it can be embodiment, as in, “possessed by the Holy Ghost,” or, “possessed by a demon.” These are philosophical concerns that I encourage all parents and aspiring parents to consider. Is your child your property? Or is your child a spirit, descended from you, whom you seek to infuse with the best qualities of your own spirit? It is this latter definition of possession that I think better suits the role of the parent, be it mother or father.
        If Miyazaki and Kaneko can sort through things effectively, then this scandal could, perhaps, be a blessing in disguise. I cannot say the marriage should or will end in divorce. However, even, as you say, sometimes situations perceived as happy turn out to be not so happy after all. If this is true, what’s worse? The happily married couple, or the divorced couple? What family is more broken? The family that’s together, but isolated; or…?
        It’s difficult to say as an outsider. And while the public thirst for scandal has lasted through the times, there comes a time when the public must back away, refrain from scapegoating, and let only the involved parties figure things out, on their own. The involved parties does not include the following: the public, the media, Miyazaki’s alleged mistresses, Miyazaki’s family and friends, Kaneko’s secret lovers (if she has them), Kaneko’s family and friends. The involved parties does include: Miyazaki, Kaneko, and their newborn baby.
        This opens a can of worms. Certain men have certain beliefs, i.e., “once mine, always mine.” Certain women have certain beliefs, i.e., “once mine, always mine.” Does Miyazaki’s ex-wife have any claim or say-so in the matter of Miyazaki’s current situation? Does Kaneko’s ex-boyfriend, if she ever had one, have any say-so in the matter of Kaneko’s current situation?
        Both Kaneko and Miyazaki would do well to retain their autonomy of decision-making in this matter. Even if they were to consult with others, it is ultimately up to the involved parties: Miyazaki, Kaneko, the child. Unfortunately, even if they have not consulted with others, they are being forced to consult with others, and listen to counsel that might be to the family’s detriment. That the situation has reached the media, and us average Joes and Sues are discussing it here is proof enough. Who’s to say the two aren’t reading our comments, even right now? The consultation in and of itself is not wrong, or worth despising. But ultimately, any decisions made by outside parties are violations not against the sovereignty of the state, but the sanctity and sovereignty of the marriage. Before there ever was a state, there was a marriage.
        I’m rambling. It’s late.

      • Jacob Israel

        I belong to one of the monotheistic faiths. And for thousands of years, people have debated what certain scriptures mean pertaining to marriage, divorce, infidelity, and child-rearing. People claim, based on one verse or another, to know the truth about the fundamentals of marriage, and they may even attempt to propagate mere human opinion as absolute truth, and fact. The truth is:

      • Jacob Israel

        … much more complicated than those individuals would ever suspect, although quite simple when articulated properly.

      • A.J. Sutter

        I belong to a monotheistic faith, too. And one of the most ancient and valuable pearls of wisdom of the faith of my fathers (and mothers) is: don’t be a schmuck. The hypocritical element I mentioned above, with the fact that the guy deliberately sought publicity about his fatherly devotion, puts him pretty squarely in that category in my book (and I expect in a certain other book into which those who happen belong to my monotheistic faith annually ask to be inscribed if they make it to shul that year).

        Apropos of the patronage issue, yes hereditary office-holding is not so desirable in a democracy. (Given that a candidate still has to win an election, I think ‘nepotism’ isn’t entirely apt.) But the reality is that Japan isn’t a democracy, and that parties find it an advantage if you have some political “DNA.” (My wife recently answered an open call for potential candidates from one of the opposition parties, and although she has many other outstanding qualifications they excitedly seized on the fact that a great-uncle related by marriage, who had died when she was a child, had been science minister — “so it’s in your DNA,” they approvingly albeit unbiologically told her.) Without party endorsement you’d have to cough up ¥3,000,000 of your own as a deposit if you want to run for national office, plus if you don’t inherit a well-known name you generally have to give up your day job and hit the hustings long before the official campaign period begins, so the alternative is to be rich. Choose your poison. In the specific case of Kaneko, though, I believe she went through a sequence of other public offices, so at least she had actually won some elections and been in public service before she made it into the Diet.

      • Jacob Israel

        Don’t be a schmuck, eh…?

        Perhaps, I will preach a sermon on that one of these days. I wonder how the congregation will perceive my use of language.

        :eats spoonful of food, types/talks with mouth open:

        Good day, and good posts.

        We disagree on certain things, but who says we have to agree on everything?

      • Sam Gilman

        I agree with most of what you say, but I don’t think the timing of her pregnancy should be faulted at all. It needs to be treated as irrelevant.

      • A.J. Sutter

        Thanks, I should have been more precise: some voters (and female voters at that) do still fault her for her timing. I think a reasonable person could hold either position, so I’m not disagreeing with you. But I get the sense from people I talk to that whereas, say, Americans want their politicians to be like them, in Japan people regard politicians as highly privileged, highly compensated people who have a duty to meet more stringent standards of behavior and self-sacrifice than the average person. This is the same basic distinction we explored at length in this forum when the paternity leave story broke.

  • 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?

    • 151E

      I’m generally none too concerned with politicians’ private lives and subscribe to the idea that there is no place for the state, nor the media, in the bedrooms of the nation – and that works both ways.

      Although one might argue that his affair speaks broadly as to his character, and admittedly, from a national security standpoint, leaves him potentially vulnerable to blackmail by foreign or commercial interests, what maters most from our elected representatives is competent job performance.

    • 151E

      I’m generally none too concerned with politicians’ private lives and subscribe to the idea that there is no place for the state, nor the media, in the bedrooms of the nation – and that works both ways.

      Although one might argue that his affair speaks broadly as to his character, and admittedly, from a national security standpoint, leaves him potentially vulnerable to blackmail by foreign or commercial interests, what maters most from our elected representatives is competent job performance.

    • A.J. Sutter

      I don’t think there’s much evidence for saying that Japan has a “continuing practice of weeding out marital-oath-breakers” from office. Leave aside the fact that getting married in Japan is a matter of filing a registration form in a government office, not a matter of taking any oaths. (And leave aside too the gratuitous “so-called muslims” remark.) The fact is that we just don’t know how many extramaritally-involved husbands and wives there are among our elected officials. Nor need we know, as far as I’m concerned.

      Even when it is known, the public often doesn’t care. A certain stretch of road in my Tokyo neighborhood is one-way during certain specific hours of the day. Locally it’s affectionately known as “[PM’s name] street” (he is long dead but his relatives are not, so forgive my delicacy). The reason: the PM’s mistress lived in the neighborhood, and by making the road one-way, the PM could come and go more discreetly when he visited her. He’s still regarded as one of Japan’s greatest postwar politicians.

      When some are exposed it’s usually because they have enemies. In this case, Miyazaki’s behavior was totally caddish, and his shaming well-deserved. He seems as if he was a big jerk in several aspects of his life, and someone must have tipped off the magazine so that they could snap pictures. In another famous adultery case, that of Uno Sousuke who served as PM for little more than 2 months in 1989, the public’s issue wasn’t his adulterous liaison but rather the fact that he paid his mistress so stingily (she publicly complained about this).

      Financial scandals play a much bigger role in sweeping politicians out of office. Especially, the complexity of Japan’s campaign finance laws is designed to make compliance very difficult. That gives various politicians, as well as corporate and criminal elements of society, leverage over each other, so that pressure can be applied very delicately. The timing of scandals breaking is rarely a matter of chance.

      E.g., the timing of the Amari disclosure was one of the better possible moments for derailing the TPP: too late for anyone else to get up to speed by participating in negotiation, thereby making sure that Amari’s replacement as Minister will have a tough time answering questions during debate. (Whether that will prevent Abe from ramming it through anyway, as with other pro-US legislation, remains to be seen.)

      • Christina Tsuchida

        The comment I made about so-called muslims is the reason I entered this article’s blog. It is not irrelevant. The so-called Islamic State put out internet PR saying they had done the mass murders in Paris as a kind of moralistic punishment for France being “a promiscuous nation”! It could be they referred to the constitutionally-required banning of veils for women in French schools. Some conservative Muslims might think unveiled females are promiscuous. Yet it could also be the assertiveness of persons like Mitterrand. Of course, to punish the country by murdering a bunch of people at random is very much worse than being promiscuous, unless you give STDs to your multiple partners.

  • 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

    • ishyg

      Porn has nothing to do with adultery, especially when adultery came up amidst stance of taking a paternity leave. Actually, porn could’ve actually helped the matter if Miyazaki just wanked off a show instead of being caught having an affair.

  • 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.