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Japanese women's rights MP resigns after affair

Kensuke Miyazaki made waves in Tokyo when he and his wife, a fellow MP, pushed for paternity leave. Now, the politician from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has been forced to quit over an affair scandal.

A ruling party lawmaker stepped down in Japan on Friday after admitting to cheating on his wife, also a member of parliament, while she was pregnant. The scandal was considered particularly egregious because Kensuke Miyazaki had made a show of taking paternity leave as part of a strategy to promote women's rights.

"I did something very cruel to my wife who just delivered a baby. I am in deep remorse," Miyazaki, 35, struggled to say at a televised press conference.

"To those who took serious interest in the issue of men taking paternity leave, I deeply, deeply apologize," said the politician from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party.

Miyazaki resigned after a magazine published pictures of him stepping out with a 34-year-old bikini model in his Kyoto constituency just six days before his wife, lawmaker Megumi Kaneko, gave birth to their first child.

The couple had drawn criticism from fellow politicians for their quest to secure paternity leave for Miyazaki in a county where fathers taking time away from work to care for young children is uncommon.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to change the taboo against parental leave, and has called to raise the number of fathers taking time off, now at about only 2.3 percent for men working at private companies, to 13 percent by 2020. The push for paternity leave is part of a larger call from Abe's government

to get more women into the workforce.

At the press conference, Miyazaki said he had met the Kyoto woman three times. When pressed to admit if he had other affairs, he said he could not deny it and asked for privacy for his family.

es/msh (AP, AFP)

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