A Congolese native who was a secretary to former House of Representatives member Muneo Suzuki demanded a public apology Wednesday from Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi for accusing him of forging a diplomatic passport.

John Muwete Muluaka resigned from Suzuki's office over the false accusation.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Muluaka threatened to take legal action if Kawaguchi does not respond to his request.

"I want to tell the foreign minister that I hope to recover my reputation," he said. "I want her to apologize."

The Foreign Ministry maintains it simply relayed the information it received from the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo regarding the passport, and is not responsible for the consequences.

The Republic of Zaire became the Democratic Republic of the Congo after a regime change in 1997.

In March 2002, the Foreign Ministry announced that it had been told by the Congolese government that Muluaka's diplomatic passport was a forged document.

In August 2002, the Congolese foreign ministry told its counterpart in Japan that Muluaka's passport, which had been issued by the Zaire government, was invalid because it did not have an official Congolese government seal, ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima said.

In November 2002, Muluaka, who is married to a Japanese, received permanent residency in Japan from the Justice Ministry using the same passport, which he said proves it is legitimate. He said he used the passport to travel to African countries last September without any trouble.