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Town mayor tenders resignation amid sexual harassment allegations

Minakami Mayor Yoshinari Maeda (Mainichi)

MAEBASHI, Gunma (Kyodo) -- The mayor of the eastern Japan town of Minakami tendered his resignation Monday after sexual harassment allegations against him have made the passage of a no-confidence motion in the local assembly almost inevitable.

Yoshinari Maeda, 51, presented the resignation letter to the secretary general of the Minakami assembly in Gunma Prefecture, a day after an assembly poll was held and a majority of the 18 newly elected members turned out to be critical of Maeda.

The case adds to a series of sexual harassment issues engulfing heads of municipalities, including Kunihiko Takahashi who resigned as mayor of the city of Komae in western Tokyo in June after months of being under fire over the allegations.

Maeda acknowledged in a press conference Monday he "feels responsible" for the defeat of the candidates he supported. He continues to deny claims he had sexually harassed a woman.

The election was held as Maeda dissolved the assembly in August in response to the passage of a no-confidence motion against him in July, criticizing him for causing confusion in governance due to the sexual harassment accusations.

The election of many critical of Maeda heightened the chances of another no-confidence motion against him.

The scandal came to light in May, with a woman accusing Maeda of sexual harassment over drinks in April. According to her lawyer and a co-worker, Maeda kissed the woman against her will. The woman has filed a criminal complaint with the police alleging indecent assault by Maeda.

Maeda has admitted to kissing her but has denied he intended to sexually harass her, saying it was by consent.

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