• Kyodo


The mayor of Komae in western Tokyo expressed his intention to resign Wednesday after four female employees of the municipal government submitted a protest letter saying they had been sexually harassed by him.

Mayor Kunihiko Takahashi, who had repeatedly denied the allegations, said at a news conference, “I have to admit it even though my perception differs from that of (the women).”

He offered to step down after the letter, which included the names of the four women, was submitted to the city the previous day. The 66-year-old mayor is planning to resign within two weeks.

Since the allegations surfaced in March, Takahashi has been urged to resign, even by his deputy. The deputy mayor held a news conference Monday, saying the city had confirmed two cases of sexual harassment by the mayor through an internal investigation.

Takahashi had been under fire after the Japanese Communist Party obtained an internal document of the municipal government showing several female employees had reported being sexually harassed by him.

One of the women complained that he touched her buttocks in an elevator, while another said he forced her to drink from a glass he had already used.

The mayor told the news conference he does not remember some of the allegations but planned to offer an apology to the victims as he takes the submission of their letter seriously.

However, the women said they would refuse a personal apology from the mayor, saying they would rather have the full details of their sexual harassment cases disclosed to the public, according to city officials.

Takahashi, a former Tokyo metropolitan government official who was first elected as mayor of Komae in 2012, also said he will step down to avoid further disrupting the government operations.

Miwako Shuto, who had led a petition drive to oust the mayor, sought his immediate resignation, saying, “He denied sexually harassing the women to the last and was not apologetic. He should humbly admit to what he did.”