TOKYO, Japan - A scandal has rocked Japan's government for the second in a week - this time involving an S&M bar. The country's newly-appointed trade minister acknowledged Thursday that an organization which manages his political funds submitted $170 in expenses from a sadomasochism-themed bar in Hiroshima. Yoichi Miyazawa says he never visited the establishment personally, but was ashamed to discover the claim, which was made in 2010. "After looking into the matter, we learned that someone from the group had made the expenditure and mistakenly reported it as a political fund" said Miyazawa. "I feel very ashamed. I've glanced through the political funds reports myself, but in all honestly I had no idea just from looking at the name of the establishment."
Miyazawa replaced his predecessor, Yuko Obuchi, on Tuesday after she resigned over allegations of mishandling of political funds. She stepped down the same day Justice Minister Midori Matsushima resigned over allegations she had violated an election law by distributing paper fans to voters. While the scandal consuming Miyazawa does not appear to have broken any laws, it is a further blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who had been enjoying a relatively strong, untarnished public approval rating.
- Arata Yamamoto