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Education minister used official car to visit ‘hostess yoga’ studio: report

Shukan Bunshun (May 3-10)
Shukan Bunshun (May 3-10)

TOKYO (TR) – A weekly magazine has revealed that Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, used an official vehicle to attend a session at a so-called “hostess yoga” studio, a revelation that could be yet another blow to the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

On Tuesday, Shukan Bunshun said in its May 3-10 issue that Hayashi, 57, visited Positive Star Yoga, located in the Ebisu district of Shibuya Ward, for two hours on April 16. A photograph appearing with the article shows the minister exiting a black van, which is an official vehicle for the ministry, upon arrival at the studio.

Female instructors at Positive Star Yoga, which is managed by a former adult video actress, provide private yoga lessons and oil massages in individual rooms at a rate of 11,000 yen for the first 60 minutes. With the studio permitting masseuses, many of whom being former gravure (pin-up) idols, to communicate with customers via the smartphone application Line and enjoy meals together, television programs often refer to it as a “hostess yoga” parlor.

During an interview with the magazine, Hayashi said his visit was for “health” purposes. When asked how he could attend such a session amid the ongoing Kake Gakuen cronyism scandal involving Abe, he said, “Well, I had some free time in my schedule.”

Positive Star Yoga in Ebisu
Some masseuses at Positive Star Yoga are former gravure idols

“More careful in the future”

On Wednesday, Hayashi told reporters that his actions were within the ministry’s rules for use of official vehicles. “However, I think I should be more careful in the future to prevent a misunderstanding,” he said. “Also, I would like to apologize for causing confusion while a tense environment exists in the Diet.”

The case could become another issue for Abe to deal with. In addition to the Kake Gakuen scandal, in which it is alleged that the prime minister eliminated red tape to ease the opening of a school for an acquaintance, the Ministry of Finance’s top bureaucrat, Junichi Fukuda, resigned last week amid allegations of sexual harassment.