National / Politics

Saitama ex-LDP lawmaker who allegedly abused aide says she wants to run in next election

Kyodo

A female lawmaker in the spotlight over allegations that she physically and verbally abused a secretary in May, expressed her desire Monday to run in a possible upcoming general election.

Although Mayuko Toyota, who quit the ruling Liberal Democratic Party after the scandal broke, apologized to supporters in her electoral constituency in Saitama Prefecture, she said, “I will work hard so that I will be allowed to run” in the House of Representatives election, which could possibly be held in late October.

“I’m really sorry for causing all these problems,” the 42-year-old Lower House member said. While she declined to give details about the allegations, saying they are still under investigation, Toyota said she did not cause her secretary serious injury.

Asked about her political future, Toyota said, “I would like to fulfill my responsibilities by working hard with deep remorse.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is thought to be planning to dissolve the Lower House at an early stage of the extraordinary Diet session to be convened on Sept. 28.

According to claims in the Shukan Shincho weekly magazine that hit newsstands in June, Toyota was sitting in the back seat of a car driven by her then secretary on May 20 when she yelled at him and struck him several times on the head and face.

The Shukan Shincho uploaded an audio file of the alleged incident in which a woman can be heard hurling insults, including “baldy” and “You should die,” at a man who says he is driving, apologizes repeatedly and asks her to stop hitting him.

The woman also screams, “How many times did you hit my heart?” and “Don’t damage my reputation anymore!”

Toyota was elected from the No. 4 district in Saitama Prefecture in 2012 and re-elected in 2014. She has served in positions including parliamentary vice education minister.

Toyota worked at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare before entering politics. While she was at the ministry, the government sponsored her master’s degree in public health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, according to an article published by the school in 2014.