TOKYO (TR) – Eriko Imai, the 33-year-old former vocalist of J-pop group Speed and current member of the Liberal Democratic Party, is engaged in an extra-marital affair with a councilman from Hyogo Prefecture, claims a weekly magazine.
In a photograph accompanying the article, Hashimoto and Imai are photographed asleep in adjoining seats on a shinkansen bullet train bound for Tokyo on July 16. The magazine confirmed that the couple had stayed together at a hotel in Osaka the day before.
Hashimoto, who is serving his third term as city councilor, has a wife and two children. According to the magazine, he and his wife are separated but not divorced. Imai is a single mother of a son with a hearing disability.
When reached for comment by the magazine, Hashimoto denied the allegations. “There is no love and affection,” he said. Imai also denied the existence of a relationship, saying that the reason they stayed together was to work on the text of a lecture.
Hits in the ’90s
In July of last year, Imai, a native of Okinawa Prefecture, won an upper house seat. The conservative LDP hoped that her appeal — Speed had a number of hits in the 1990s — would help spread the party’s policies among younger voters.