When asked about a complaint from a Japanese TV station that the most senior official at his ministry sexually harassed a reporter, Finance Minister Taro Aso said the font used on the complaint letter was too small.
The scandal broke last week when a magazine reported that the official, Junichi Fukuda, harassed at least one unnamed female journalist. He resigned over the matter but has continued to deny the allegations. The broadcaster, TV Asahi, sent a formal complaint letter about the treatment of its employee to the ministry on Thursday, and asked for an investigation into Fukuda’s conduct.
Aso, 77, told reporters at the Group of 20 meeting in Washington that the letter was “a formal statement from the company, and we must accept it properly.”
When questioned further, he said: “As the complaint was only a single sheet of paper, my only thought was that it would have been easier to read if they had used a bigger font.” He added that a separate official would be dealing with the investigation.
The harassment allegation adds to other problems facing Aso and the Finance Ministry, which is already embroiled in another scandal over the doctoring of documents related to a suspicious land deal linked to the prime minister. The Diet refused Aso permission to attend the meetings in Washington, although that is a nonbinding formality.
Although opposition politicians are calling for his resignation, Aso told reporters that he has no intention to quit.