Ruling lawmaker quits party over allegations of drinking with teen

A House of Representatives member from a ruling party faction led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida quit the party Friday over a magazine report that he went out for drinks with an 18-year-old girl and gave her 40,000 yen, party sources said.
The drinking age in Japan is 20, and the latest revelation involving third-term lawmaker Takeru Yoshikawa comes at a delicate time for Kishida and the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito ahead of a House of Councillors election in July.
It marks the first time an LDP Diet member has resigned due to allegations of misconduct since the Kishida administration took office last October.
Toshimitsu Motegi, the secretary general of the ruling LDP, said Yoshikawa had apologized for causing trouble for the party when asking to resign.
The party accepted his resignation from the LDP on Friday night.
Before departing for Singapore to attend a security dialogue, Kishida had told reporters that he was aware of the report and that "it is important that (Yoshikawa) explain himself truthfully."
Motegi said he had received instructions from Kishida to confirm if the allegations were true.
Keiichi Ishii, the secretary general of Komeito, also called for an explanation from Yoshikawa. "If true, it is extremely regrettable."
A senior LDP member told reporters that quitting as a lawmaker would be the appropriate way for Yoshikawa to take responsibility for the misconduct if the report is accurate.
The weekly Post magazine said in its latest edition that Yoshikawa, 40, had dinner and alcoholic drinks with an 18-year-old female university student at a Japanese barbeque restaurant in Tokyo on the night of May 27.
The student allegedly told the magazine she received 40,000 yen from him.
A slew of scandals involving cabinet ministers and politicians have rocked recent administrations.
Public support remains relatively high for Kishida after he prioritized the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and took a tough stance against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

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