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Japanese lawmaker who advocated paternity leave cheated on pregnant wife

Japanese lawmaker quits after confessing to an affair with a bikini model while his wife was pregnant

A Japanese politician, who made headlines over his quest to take paternity leave, quit on Friday after confessing to an affair with a bikini model while his wife was pregnant.

Mr Kensuke Miyazaki, 35, shook up Japan's conservative political scene last month when he sought to take a month's leave to help his then-pregnant wife.

His request was criticised by many politicians in a country where fathers taking time off to care for children is rare.

Mr Miyazaki, however, won the backing of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who supported his trailblazing idea.

Yesterday, Mr Miyazaki, who is from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, announced his resignation after a weekly magazine revealed his affair with the 34-year-old woman in Kyoto, his constituency.

The affair happened several days before Mr Miyazaki's wife, fellow politician Megumi Kaneko, gave birth to their first child on Feb 5.

His mea culpa was televised nationally and lunchtime news showed the disgraced politician bowing deeply to convey his contrition.

Yesterday's evening newspapers followed suit, with the same photo splashed over the front pages.

The admission of his affair triggered outrage online, but politicians were at pains to point out that Mr Miyazaki's fall from grace should not detract from the debate on paternity leave.

"The issue of men taking vacation or paternity leave should not be rejected or devalued because of this sort of thing," said Japan's Education Minister Hiroshi Hase, who then took a swipe at Mr Miyazaki, adding: "We reap what we sow."

Health, Labour and Welfare Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki insisted the scandal would have no bearing on government policy.

"It is an individual case," he told local media.

"It is not something which will have any influence on issues of policy."

Mr Miyazaki had met the woman, who is also a professional kimono dresser, when she helped him and other politicians dress up in ceremonial garb for the opening of Japan's Parliament on Jan 4.

"I have done such a cruel thing to my wife," he told a press conference.

"I'm deeply, deeply, deeply sorry that what I've been advocating (on paternity leave) was contradicted by my careless actions. So, I have decided to quit," he said.

Mr Miyazaki had faced strong calls for him to step down.

"To think he was lobbying for paternity leave while (having an affair)," fumed Mr Yukio Edano, secretary general of Democratic Party of Japan. "He has tarnished the debate."

- AFP

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