Japanese Ministry Says Ex-Official Sexually Harassed Reporter

(Bloomberg) -- Japan’s finance ministry determined that its former top official sexually harassed a female reporter, Deputy Vice-Finance Minister Koji Yano said at a press conference on Friday.

Junichi Fukuda, who was the top bureaucrat, was accused by a tabloid magazine of harassing female journalists. He denied the allegations and initially said he would continue working, but then resigned a few days later, saying that it was impossible to continue under the circumstances.

Based on a report from a law firm which was investigating the allegations, the ministry judged Fukuda had harassed one reporter. The ministry imposed a fine of 1.41 million yen ($12,900) on him, which is equivalent to a 20 percent pay cut for a six-month period, and said it’s not considering additional punishment based on the information it has now.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said earlier this month that if true, Fukuda’s actions were "unacceptable," and said earlier on Friday that he wanted to quickly finalize the punishment. He had said earlier this week that some people believed Fukuda was set up, and also complained about the font size the reporter’s employer used in the formal complaint to the ministry.

The finance ministry has found itself at the center of multiple scandals, and Aso is facing calls to step down from lawmakers, including some in his own party. The scandals are creating political headaches for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has seen his support rate plummet.

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