In a blow that could further humiliate the scandal-tainted ruling party, disabled celebrity author and educator Hirotada Ototake, rumored to be tapped for an election run with the Liberal Democratic Party, apologized Thursday for committing adultery following a report by a tabloid magazine.
“My action reported by the magazine amounts to a betrayal against my devoted wife and my supporters, and it’s absolutely unforgivable,” he said in a statement after the tabloid reported his infidelities. Ototake, with no arms and legs due to a congenital disease, had come to symbolize those with disabilities in Japan.
Also in his statement, he admitted to what he described as “a sin so serious I can never fully atone for it while alive.”
In the article published in Thursday’s issue of Shukan Shincho, the magazine detailed a week-long intimate trip Ototake took with a “woman in her late 20s” to Paris and Tunis from the end of last year.
When confronted by the tabloid, Ototake acknowledged the woman was his mistress and that they were in a sexual relationship, explaining he initiated the affair to “seek comfort” after his marriage slipped into a rut.
Ototake also revealed to the magazine that he has had inappropriate relationships with five different women in total, including the mistress in question, since his eldest son was born eight years ago.
The 39-year-old shot to stardom with his 1998 memoir “Gotai Fumanzoku (No One’s Perfect)” while still an undergraduate, before carving out a diverse career as a sports journalist, elementary school teacher, actor and Tokyo education board member.
Reports emerged earlier this month that he would run as a LDP-backed candidate in the summer Upper House election. His well-known pronouncement that “disabilities don’t limit one’s potential” was hailed as being in harmony with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal to promote “dynamic engagement of all citizens.”
The revelations, however, will likely hurt his well-crafted image and undermine his chances of entering politics.
Ototake’s sex scandal comes on the heels of LDP lawmaker and “paternity leave pioneer” Kensuke Miyazaki’s shock resignation in February after he admitted to engaging in an extramarital affair with a bikini model.
“It’s hard to rebuild trust, but I would like to take this opportunity to do soul-searching and deal with my family matters,” Ototake said in his statement.
His apology was followed by a statement by his wife saying she “shares responsibility” for her husband’s infidelity and “feels deeply sorry” for it.