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Lawmaker quits LDP for bar visit under virus emergency

  • February 17, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 9:13 p.m.
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Tokyo, Feb. 17 (Jiji Press)–Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Takaki Shirasuka resigned from the Japanese ruling party Wednesday following a magazine report that he visited a luxury nightclub in Tokyo earlier this month although the country’s capital has been under a coronavirus state of emergency.

Earlier in the day, Shirasuka, a member of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, Japan’s parliament, submitted a notice of resignation from the LDP. The party approved it.

Shirasuka, 45, will not run in the next Lower House election, to be held within this year. In its online edition, the Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine said Wednesday that Shirasuka visited the members-only nightclub on the night of Feb. 10.

Residents of Tokyo and other prefectures under the emergency are being asked not to go out at night for nonessential purposes.

Earlier this month, three lawmakers, including former National Public Safety Commission Chairman Jun Matsumoto, quit the party after drawing fire for visiting a bar in Tokyo late at night under the state of emergency.

A member of Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, has resigned as lawmaker for a similar reason.

Shirasuka entered the members-only nightclub in the Azabujuban district in Tokyo’s Minato Ward shortly past 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 10 with a woman and stayed there until around 10 p.m.

With the emergency declaration in place, the LDP is urging its members to refrain from going out after 8 p.m.

At a Feb. 2 news conference, in which an extension of the state of emergency was announced, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, also LDP president, apologized for the bar visit by the three former party members and said that such behavior should have never been made.

The state of emergency, issued in January, now covers Tokyo and nine other prefectures. It was initially slated to run until Feb. 7, but has been extended and is now planned to remain in place until March 7.

“I offer a heartfelt apology for trampling on the feelings of people who are refraining (from going out) amid the coronavirus epidemic,” Shirasuka told reporters at the LDP headquarters after submitting the notice of resignation.

Shirasuka said he visited the nightclub, whose manager is his acquaintance, to help its sales as the manager told him that the establishment is in a tough situation and on the verge of going bust.

LDP policy chief Hakubun Shimomura told a news conference that Shirasuka’s nightclub visit was “outrageous” and a “huge blow to the LDP.”

Shirasuka’s behavior will have “a huge impact on the (Suga) administration,” Komeito policy chief Yuzuru Takeuchi said, showing his displeasure.

“The LDP’s supervisory responsibility should be called into question,” Jun Azumi, parliamentary affairs chief of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters.

Azumi also said that Shirasuka is “more sinful” than the three lawmakers who quit the LDP earlier this month.

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