• Kyodo

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A mayor in Hyogo Prefecture who told a reporter “I’ll kill you” when he was approached after a new year ceremony said Friday he is prepared to apologize — if he gets an apology from the reporter first.

Takeshi Imamura, the mayor of Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, told a news conference that the remark to the Yomiuri Shimbun reporter constituted “verbal abuse” and said, “I would like to apologize to the reporter.”

The 45-year-old, known for his hard-line stance toward news organizations he considers “biased,” said he made the remark because he was angered by the lack of apology from the reporter, who Imamura said visited his home during the new year holidays and “trespassed” on private property.

“I have told (the Yomiuri Shimbun) that if I receive an apology (from the reporter), I will apologize for my verbal abuse, and then we can shake hands,” Imamura said.

A spokesperson for the Yomiuri Shimbun said the reporter “has been engaged in just reporting activities and (the company) will deal with the matter appropriately.” It lodged a protest against the mayor Thursday for allegedly infringing on press freedom.

Imamura, who is in his first four-year term, said during the Thursday ceremony that he will not run in the mayoral election slated for April. He made the offensive remark when the reporter approached him later to confirm his intent.

Imamura has sparked controversy in the past over the temporarily adopted policy of not answering questions from “biased” media outlets and making comments ridiculing a city assemblywoman who criticized him.

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