National / Politics

Head of Foreign Ministry's Russian affairs section suspended over alleged sexual harassment

Kyodo

The head of the Foreign Ministry’s Russian affairs section, Tadaatsu Mori, has been punished for alleged sexual harassment of a woman, it was revealed Tuesday.

The ministry suspended Mori, 49, from public duties for nine months and removed him from his position.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono declined to reveal additional details on the matter, citing privacy concerns.

“It’s regrettable an incident like this happened at the ministry. It has nothing to do with diplomacy,” Kono told reporters.

“I cannot discuss it any further because of privacy issues. We will try to tighten discipline (at the ministry),” he said.

According to a source, a woman reported the alleged sexual harassment to the Foreign Ministry.

Mori, who was appointed to the position in January last year, is graduate of the University of Tokyo and started working at the ministry in 1991.

He was leading working-level negotiations with Russia concerning the long-standing territorial dispute over Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, which are known in Japan as the Northern Territories.

In May, he accompanied Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his trip to Russia.

The latest allegation surfaced after the Finance Ministry’s top bureaucrat came under fire for having allegedly sexually harassed a female reporter. Junichi Fukuda, who denied the allegation, stepped down as vice finance minister in April.

The case put the spotlight on how women are treated in the workplace in Japan. A remark by Finance Minister Taro Aso making light of the sexual harassment allegation against his subordinate Fukuda prompted street protests against the comments.

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