On February 23, Koya Nishikawa stepped down as Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries due to revelations of improper fund raising.
Not everyone within the Ministry, however, was shedding tears for their fallen former leader. Later that night, tabloid Shukan Shincho photographed agriculture parliamentary vice minister Yuko Nakagawa kissing married Lower House member Hirofumi Kado on a street in Tokyo’s Roppongi entertainment area.
The photograph appeared in an issue of the magazine that hit newsstands last Thursday.
In following up the report, evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (March 8) finds that the incident was not a mere moment of drunken affection by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers, as both later claimed.
The paper has sought records from the Ministry about the usage of a particular room for parliament officials that may have served as a love nest for the pair.
“Rumors started circulating about Kado frequently arriving with Nakagawa at an unoccupied parliament room,” says a political official. “They’d seclude themselves in there for more than an hour, and nobody would leave during that time.”
Since Nakagawa, 56, assumed her position as parliamentary vice minister in September, she and Kado, 49, are believed to have used the parliament room for illicit meetings on more than 20 occasions.
“There have been rumblings among officials at the Ministry and bureaucrats that the room is a ‘substitute for a love hotel,'” continues the insider.
When the paper asked the Ministry to reveal how many times the lawmaker had used the room, a number was unavailable. Kado’s office offered a similar response to the same inquiry. “As to an exact number of times, that is not known,” said a representative.
On Thursday, Nakagawa offered an apology for the problems she has caused following the release of the magazine. In a statement, she said that even though the incident occurred after a drinking party it was as a “careless” act. She also entered a hospital for a two-week stay for an undisclosed illness on that same day.
Kado, who has a wife and three children, said, “I deeply apologize for the careless act that was brought on due to drinking and that could lend itself to misinterpretation,” according to the Asahi Shimbun (March 6).
Nikkan Gendai, however, feels it has a proper interpretation of the matter. (A.T.)
Source: “Seimu-kan-shitsu de 20-kai cho ‘mikkai’ ka-ji chu furin no Nakagawa-shi ni shin giwaku,” Nikkan Gendai (March 8)