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Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

'Sakura Papa' sues publisher, ex-girlfriend

Staff writer

Democratic Party of Japan member Yoshiro Yokomine, elected last month to the Upper House, filed a damages lawsuit Tuesday against publisher Shinchosha Publishing Co. and his former girlfriend for defamation of character over a recently published article.

Headlined "Giin Shikkaku" ("Disqualified as a Diet member"), the article appeared in the Aug. 22 edition of the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho. In it, Yokomine's ex-girlfriend alleges the lawmaker made large sums of money betting on his golf games.

The father of renowned professional golfer Sakura Yokomine, the DPJ lawmaker is known by the nickname "Sakura Papa."

The woman was quoted as saying Yokomine told her his motive for becoming a lawmaker was to secure "a stable job for the next six years with a ¥20 million annual salary."

At a news conference Tuesday evening, Yokomine said most of the allegations in the article are untrue, although he admitted that he bet about ¥5,000 on a golf game with friends more than 10 years ago.

He is seeking ¥55 million in damages from Shinchosha and the woman.

Yokomine claimed that the woman had been trying to extort money from him, adding that he thinks she told the story to the magazine because he refused to pay her.

Yokomine also expressed outrage toward the media for repeatedly carrying reports on the article.

"All of these untrue reports have been broadcast throughout the nation and if I were someone weaker, I would have committed suicide by now," Yokomine said angrily.

DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama said Friday that he reprimanded Yokomine after he admitted some information in the article was accurate.

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The Japan Times

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