• JIJI, KYODO

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Lawmaker Hiranao Honda submitted a letter of resignation to the head of the Lower House Wednesday, after leaving the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan on Tuesday over inappropriate comments he made regarding the age of consent.

The CDP leadership accepted his resignation from the party, instead of suspending his party membership for a year as had been considered.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Honda suggested that he would step down as a member of the House of Representatives, noting that he was elected on the CDP ticket from a proportional representation bloc.

“I want to apologize from my heart for the expressions that made people feel uncomfortable and any imagery that may hurt victims,” said Honda, who was elected from the bloc for Hokkaido.

When asked whether he will run in the upcoming Lower House election to be held by this autumn, Honda said that he was “not thinking at all about the future.”

In a separate news conference, CDP Secretary-General Tetsuro Fukuyama also apologized over “betraying the hopes of many supporters.”

In a party meeting on May 10, Honda is believed to have said: “I’m not far off 50 years old, but if I had sex with a 14-year-old, I would be arrested, even if there was consent. It’s strange.” The comment drew criticism from both in and outside the party.

Honda withdrew the remark and apologized, and Fukuyama gave him a verbal warning.

But the party leadership began considering a harsher punishment after continued criticism from several groups, including those who support victims of sexual assault. On July 13, the leadership team proposed to the CDP ethics committee that Honda be suspended from the party for one year.

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