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Ex-education official linked to illicit bar in Kabukicho: report

Kihei Maekawa
Kihei Maekawa is alleged to have regularly visited a bar that provides women for prostitution while vice-minister for the education ministry (YouTube)

TOKYO (TR) – A former official with the education ministry who resigned earlier this year over a scandal over jobs for retiring bureaucrats has now been linked to an illicit bar in the Kabukicho red-light district of Shinjuku Ward, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (May 22).

According to sources with knowledge of the matter, Kihei Maekawa, a 62-year-old former vice-minister for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, regularly visited the bar, which provides women for prostitution and enjo kosai, or compensated dating.

A male patron to the bar pays several thousand yen for entry. The customer is then able to select a woman to sit with him. He may later decide to escort her off the premises to a hotel or short-term room in the area.

Maekawa resigned as the ministry’s vice-minister in January to take responsibility over the controversial practice of amakudari, in which retiring bureaucrats take lucrative positions in the public sector in industries they once oversaw.

That same month, a government watchdog uncovered efforts by the ministry to secure a position for a retired bureaucrat at Waseda University. A subsequent government investigation revealed that the ministry has been involved in the practice for several years.

Maekawa is alleged to have visited the bar while he was in office, which raises questions about the suitability of such behavior, according to the Yomiuri.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Monday that he would refrain from commenting on the allegations until all the facts of the case are known. “A government official is a servant of the people, one who works on behalf of their interests,” Suga said, according to the Sankei Shimbun (May 22). “And I hope that he will devote himself fully in carrying out his duties.”