National / Politics

Accused of rape, Tsuyoshi Tabata leaves LDP, in latest 'terrible third-time lawmaker’ scandal

JIJI, Kyodo

House of Representatives member Tsuyoshi Tabata left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Thursday, joining the LDP’s cohort of “terrible third-time lawmakers” considered prone to scandals and gaffes.

The LDP accepted the resignation of Tabata, 46, who was elected for the third time to the lower chamber of the Diet in the Tokai bloc, under the proportional representation system, in the 2017 election.

A woman has filed a criminal complaint against Tabata, a former Bank of Japan employee, over an alleged rape.

Some in the LDP are calling for Tabata’s resignation as a Diet member to minimize the impact of his scandal on unified local elections in April and the election for the House of Councilors in the summer.

But such a move could lead to tensions between LDP factions.

Tabata is a member of the faction led by Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai.

If Tabata resigns his Lower House seat will be passed to Takeru Yoshikawa, who belongs to the faction of Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida.

Yoshikawa competed unsuccessfully for a seat in the Shizuoka No. 5 constituency against independent lawmaker Goshi Hosono, who recently joined the Nikai faction. Yoshikawa heads the LDP branch for the constituency.

Tabata’s resignation would likely reignite tensions between the Nikai and Kishida factions, observers said.

Tabata first won a seat in the Lower House election in December 2012, when the LDP achieved a sweeping victory and returned to power.

Other scandal-hit former LDP lawmakers said to be among the “terrible” group that won seats for the first time in the 2012 election include Mayuko Toyota, who lost her seat in the October 2017 election after making headlines for verbally abusing her secretary, and Kensuke Miyazaki, who quit his seat in February 2016 after admitting to having an extramarital affair while his wife was pregnant.