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Members of the Japanese Communist Party working at the party’s headquarters in Tokyo may be able to drink alcohol outside their homes after all.

Kazuo Shii, chairman of the Executive Committee of the JCP, withdrew on Friday his earlier remark that the party would reinforce the implementation of its internal code prohibiting such activity.

Shii said the rule is a nonbinding, voluntary understanding among party members, although he had earlier believed it was a party code.

At a news conference Wednesday, Shii was explaining his ideas for preventing sexual harassment by party members. His comments came after the resignation last week of Upper House member Hideyo Fudesaka, who had served as the JCP’s policy affairs chief.

Fudesaka quit after admitting to sexually harassing a woman at a party where alcohol was reportedly served.

The revelation of what Shii had believed was a party code surprised reporters, prompting many major newspapers to carry an article about the strict rule.

“It was my misunderstanding, and my explanation didn’t match with the facts,” Shii said.

But he did not deny that the “voluntary understanding” asks party members to notify the party when they plan to drink outside their homes.