Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi apologized on Wednesday after a magazine reported the day before that he had used an official ministry car to visit a “sexy yoga” studio in Tokyo, threatening to add a new one. scandal in the already besieged government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The weekly Shukan Bunshun reported on Tuesday that Hayashi spent two hours in a studio where an instructor gives a private yoga class and then an oil massage to clients in the capital’s Ebisu district on April 16.
The weekly publication said the studio is run by a former porn actress, an allegation the owner denies, and has been featured on television as a “yoga hostess club” because its instructors are former hostesses and mannequins.
Acknowledging the allegation, Hayashi told reporters, “I should have clarified between my public and private affairs.”
Hayashi has apologized for creating unrest as opposition parties demand that Finance Minister Taro Aso resign over multiple scandals involving officials in his ministry, including allegations of sexual harassment. The opposition camp is boycotting the Diet’s deliberations.
The 57-year-old Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said he visited the yoga studio after leaving his ministry in the afternoon April 16, before going to the Diet building.
While Hayashi said that using an official vehicle did not violate regulations because he had visited the facility in between his public duties, he said the visit was something that could elicit concerns. misunderstandings and that his judgment “failed”.
Hayashi dismissed the magazine’s description of the studio as a “yoga hostess club,” saying, “I understand this is a standard yoga studio.”
The minister revealed that he frequented the yoga studio several times a month for five or six years to stay healthy and to use official cars.
Faced with intensifying pressure from opposition forces, including this latest scandal, Hiroshi Moriyama, Diet affairs chief for the Liberal Democratic Party, told reporters that the dissolution of the House of Representatives was “an option” that could be taken in the event of censorship. a complaint is filed against the Abe administration.
The prime minister dissolved the lower house last October for a general election in which his ruling bloc won a landslide victory – in part because of the fractured state of opposition parties.
Moriyama’s remark quickly drew criticism from opposition lawmakers, with one saying it smacked of “intimidation” and another claiming such a move would actually backfire on the government.
But a senior government official said: “There is no need for a dissolution”, stressing that such a decision is the “exclusive prerogative” of the prime minister.
PLD general secretary Toshihiro Nikai also dismissed Moriyama’s remark as too sudden, saying, âHow can we dissolve (the lower house) now?
The Education Ministry said that the use of government cars is primarily intended for the proper performance of the official duties of senior officials. As for Hayashi’s use of the official car to tour the studio, the ministry believes it did not violate the regulations.
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scandal, Yoshimasa Hayashi