TOKYO/SEOUL – A Japanese government official was temporarily detained in South Korea for allegedly assaulting an airport worker in Seoul while on a personal trip, the government said Wednesday.
Kosuke Takeda, a 47-year-old official of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, is suspected of assaulting a worker at Gimpo International Airport and telling the worker that he hates South Koreans, according to a senior ministry official.
South Korean police said Takeda was detained Tuesday on suspicion of hitting an airport worker at a boarding gate while under the influence of alcohol.
“He was heavily drunk,” police said, adding Takeda had admitted to the allegations and apologized.
An airport official said he appeared drunk and “started to throw papers and hit our worker” when he was asked to wait before boarding.
The ministry apologized for the incident in a statement, saying it will dispatch officials to South Korea to look into the matter.
Takeda, who was released and has already returned to Japan, was replaced as head of the Wage Division by Wednesday, the ministry said.
He said Tuesday in a Facebook post that he was detained by the local police but did not know why.
“I was beaten and sustained an injury. I was handcuffed and grabbed by five people. It’s a weird country,” he said in the post.
In another post Wednesday, Takeda said, “In fact, I wasn’t drunk. I acted disorderly but didn’t hit the airport worker.”
He admitted telling the airport worker that he hated South Koreans but said it was because he was angry and there was “no political intention.”
“I’ll be written about in the papers again lol,” he said in the Facebook post.
Takeda caused controversy earlier this month when he told a ruling party lawmakers’ meeting that the government was considering a unified minimum hourly wage by sector, prompting a denial by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
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