A Congolese man who was an aide to former lawmaker Muneo Suzuki filed a lawsuit Wednesday demanding that the government pay him 10 million yen in compensation for defaming him by saying he held a forged passport.

John Muwete Muluaka, 56, told reporters he filed the suit with the Tokyo District Court, also demanding a government apology.

The Foreign Ministry told reporters in March 2002 that Muluaka had a fake diplomatic passport. Muluaka said he has never held a diplomatic passport and called the allegation groundless.

Muluaka used to be a private secretary to Suzuki, who is currently on trial for bribery. He said he held an official passport at the time and visited many countries with it without any problem.

Muluaka said he has asked the ministry to apologize but received no response.

In March, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima told reporters that the ministry sees no need to apologize, saying Muluaka was using an invalid passport.

Takashima said the ministry has received a contents-certified letter from Muluaka claiming the Justice Ministry had admitted his passport was neither forged nor a diplomatic one.

The Foreign Ministry had initially claimed Muluaka’s passport was fake after hearing from the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Congolese government later told Japan that the passport was not fake but was invalid because it was not authorized by the Congolese Foreign Ministry as a diplomatic one, according to Takashima.

The official passport Muluaka had used became invalid after strife-torn Zaire changed its name to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997. He obtained a new passport issued at the country’s embassy in Tokyo in January 2000.

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