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Japan lawmaker apologizes for saying 'women lie' about sexual assault

Mio Sugita, a House of Representatives member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- A ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker apologized for her remark that women can "tell lies" in connection with sexual violence after she came under fire from both the ruling and opposition parties and the Japanese public, backing down on her earlier denial of making such a statement.

    Mio Sugita, a member of the House of Representatives, wrote in her blog on Oct. 1 that she confirmed she had made the remark in question. She then stated, "The act of telling a lie is not gender-dependent, but my statement gave the impression that only women tell lies. I apologize to those who felt uncomfortable about it."

    Sugita came under fire after being reported as saying, "Women can tell lies as much as they want," in connection with the government's consultation services for sexual violence victims during a joint meeting of the LDP's first and second Cabinet divisions held at party headquarters in Tokyo on Sept. 25. She wrote in her blog on Sept. 26, "I'd like to emphasize that I didn't make a statement that despises women."

    But in her Oct. 1 blog entry, Sugita turned around her position and acknowledged that she made the remark. "I made such a long statement during the joint meeting and my awareness was that I didn't make the remark that was pointed out," she stated. "After examining what I said at the time by asking those concerned, I've confirmed that I made the remark while I was arguing that every issue should be put to debate without viewing it as a sanctuary by citing an example of the recently reported misappropriation of funds by a female head of a private organization related to 'comfort women.' I apologize that (my earlier entry) was not true."

    A staff member at her office in the Diet told the Mainichi Shimbun on Oct. 1 that Sugita has no plan to hold a press conference over the issue.

    (Japanese original by Shuhei Endo, Political News Department)

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