National / Politics

Minister Satsuki Katayama sues magazine publisher over graft allegations

Kyodo

Satsuki Katayama, the only female minister in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet, has sued publisher Bungei Shunju Ltd., claiming its report in a weekly magazine that she accepted money in a graft scandal defamed her reputation.

The regional revitalization minister is seeking ¥11 million ($98,000) in damages in the lawsuit filed Monday with the Tokyo District Court. The suit alleges the Shukan Bunshun article contained factual errors, her lawyer said.

The magazine issued last week reported that the owner of a manufacturing company paid ¥1 million to Katayama’s secretary in 2015 in return for asking tax authorities for special treatment on the company’s behalf.

The Katayama side is claiming that the article’s headline, “¥1 million for talking to tax authorities,” which was featured on the magazine’s advertisements in newspapers and other media, gave the impression that she conducted an illegal act. It inflicted serious damage to her reputation even though she did not accept the owner’s request, they said.

The publisher said in a statement it backs its article and will prove the truthfulness of the report in follow-up stories.

Katayama, a former Finance Ministry bureaucrat who doubles as minister in charge of women’s empowerment, obtained her first ministerial post in the Cabinet reshuffle last month.