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Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Sex harassment case sinks JCP lawmaker
Fudesaka's resignation stuns party
Hideyo Fudesaka, 55, the Japanese Communist Party's policy chief, tendered his resignation from the House of Councilors on Tuesday after admitting to sexually harassing a woman.
The same day, JCP executives told a hastily arranged news conference that Fudesaka, who had served as the party's top policymaker since 1997, has been stripped of all party posts.
Upper House President Hiroyuki Kurata received Fudesaka's resignation notice a little before noon. Formal approval was to come with a vote by a plenary session of the chamber at a later date.
The move is expected to deal a severe blow to the JCP; Fudesaka was one of the party's best-known and sharpest debaters, often appearing on TV shows and televised Diet interpellation sessions to grill Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and members of his Cabinet.
The fact that sexual harassment was the trigger was also ignominious for the party, which prides itself on its clean image.
"(The sexual harassment) was intolerable both socially and in terms of our party code," Tadayoshi Ichida, head of the JCP Secretariat and the party's No. 2 man, said during the news conference.
According to the JCP, a woman told the secretariat of the JCP's Central Committee last month that she was sexually harassed by Fudesaka during a party in which drinks were served. The JCP did not disclose the woman's name or provide details of what sort of conduct Fudesaka displayed.
Responding to questions from the party, Fudesaka owned up to the harassment and voluntarily offered to resign as a Diet member, the JCP officials said.
Fudesaka was also stripped of his membership in the JCP's Standing Executive Committee, the party's top decision-making body. However, he will remain a party member.
The JCP said it had yet to select a successor to fill the policy chief portfolio.
"I apologize for being offensive to a woman, and for betraying the expectations of the public, the voters who have supported the JCP, those in organizations that have supported the party and JCP members," Fudesaka said in a written statement. "To take responsibility for this, I submitted a letter of resignation from the House of Councilors (Tuesday)."
Born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1948, Fudesaka at one time worked for the former Sanwa Bank and later became a lawmaker's secretary.
He was first elected to the Upper House in 1995 through the proportional representation part of the ballot. With his resignation, his seat will be succeeded by Mieko Kobayashi, who was the next candidate on the JCP roster.