Japan’s second-highest ranking prosecutor indicated Friday that he is ready to step down over allegations that he used public funds to take his mistress on business trips.
Mamoru Norisada, 60, chief prosecutor at the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor’s Office, has told Prosecutor General Keisuke Kitajima that he will leave the question of his resignation up to Kitajima, according to Justice Ministry officials.
Officials at the ministry and the prosecutor’s office consider Norisada’s move a de facto offer to resign. Norisada had been tipped as a strong candidate for the next prosecutor general, the top post in the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched investigations into the case and will decide on what to do with Norisada once the report is complete, the officials said. The general affairs division of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office is in charge of the investigation but has refused to comment on the issue.
The probe was ordered by Justice Minister Takao Jinnouchi earlier in the day after Norisada’s relationship with the former hostess was disclosed in an article appearing in a monthly magazine that hit the shelves Friday.
The May edition of the monthly magazine Uwasa no Shinso (The Truth Behind the Rumors) carries an interview with the 28-year-old former Ginza hostess. In the article, the woman claims she and Norisada have been having an affair since they met in 1993, when Norisada was director general of the ministry’s secretariat.
She also said that she and Norisada have an intimate relationship and that he has taken her on business trips.
The article also mentions that Norisada often came to the bar at which she worked with businesspeople who had strong connections with politicians. It speculates that Norisada may have received financial support from them. “The article has some inaccuracies, but if I start pointing them out, I have to explain everything,” Norisada said Friday in response to the scandal. “I have never made any businessmen pay money nor taken this woman on business trips.”
The magazine says in a printed comment that if her allegations are true, Norisada illegally spent taxpayer money to cover transportation and hotel costs for the woman.
Such conduct by a public official, the magazine says, should be punished with dismissal.
The woman says in the article that she and Norisada started dating in 1994 and that she became pregnant and had an abortion in October the same year, at age 23.
The article alleges that Norisada asked one of his acquaintances, a pachinko entrepreneur who has strong political connections, to pay 800,000 yen to her as consolation money.
Norisada himself gave the woman a check for 300,000 yen, which she used to pay for the 260,000 yen operation, the article says.