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The Democratic Party of Japan will pursue alleged remarks by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, the gender equality minister, suggesting scantily clad women are partially to blame for rapes, senior DPJ lawmaker Yoshihiko Noda said Friday.

Noda, chairman of the DPJ Diet Affairs Committee, said that if the report is true, Fukuda will have to bear significant responsibility.

Fukuda told a Diet committee Thursday that he made no such remark defending a gang rape allegedly committed by university students or criticizing women for wearing revealing clothing.

“If the report is true, he will face grave responsibility, as it means he lied to the Diet,” Noda told a news conference. “It would mean he is not in a position to serve as the state minister of gender equality.”

Shukan Bunshun, a weekly magazine, published a story Thursday claiming Fukuda made the off-the-record remarks to reporters June 27 at his office. He was reportedly talking about the university students recently charged with gang-raping a coed.

It quoted him as saying, “It is wrong for women (victims of such crimes) to dress mostly naked . . . men are black panthers, so leniency can be thinkable (for the rapists).”

However, Fukuda told a meeting of the House of Councilors Cabinet Committee, “I did not make any remarks like that.”

Fukuda’s alleged remarks follow a string of controversial comments from other members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

At a symposium June 26, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori said it is wrong for the government to provide social security benefits to women who bear no children, which sparked calls for an apology.

Seiichi Ota, a former Cabinet minister, suggested in the same symposium that the gang rapists could be tolerated, as the situation shows they are “virile” and “close to normal.”

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