Friday, February 23, 2007

Lawmaker Sugimura continues to have woman trouble

LDP lawmaker Taizo Sugimura is in trouble again. The 26-year-old exchanged engagement presents in a customary ceremony on April 8 and is now awaiting his wedding day, or so it seemed. But once again a scandal with a woman has surfaced for the young politician.

"I would like to ask you about the night you spent with 'Miss A' last year on Oct 21," a Shukan Post reporter asked Sugimura in an office building of the Lower House recently.

Sugimura's face turned pale and his appearance became unsettled as soon as he heard the woman's name. "There is nothing to say. If you'll excuse me, I have to go to a meeting," he said, hurrying away.

On May 11, he is scheduled to get married, but not to Miss A. Not only that, right before the announcement of his engagement in March,news of an affair with the secretary of former PM Tsutomu Hata surfaced.

Miss A, who is only 19, lives in Tokyo. She resembles the actress Hinano Yoshikawa. She was only 18 when she met and spent the night with Sugimura last October. Unlike Sugimura, she has been willing to tell her side of the story.

"On Oct 14, I went out to a club with a girlfriend of mine," A said. "The staff invited us to the VIP lounge saying that 'the Taizo' was there. It was right after the election and I was curious to meet the person of the moment."

Once in the VIP room, she said they celebrated with champagne. "If the media ever takes a picture of me right now, it would be worth at least 5 million yen, because I am hot!" bragged Sugimura.

Miss A, who was preparing for a college entrance exam at the time, was uncertain about her future. Sugimura had told her that he would listen to her problems, and had given her his cell phone number and email address that he "rarely gives out," A recalled.

Sugimura emailed and phoned her several times after the initial encounter. "When he sent me an email, it was all in hiragana. I couldn't stop myself from laughing," she said.

The second encounter happened suddenly on Oct 21, a week after the initial contact, when Sugimura called her. "Let's have dinner together. I can listen to your concerns about your future," he told her.

She accepted the invitation as she was depressed from studying for the exam too much and wanted to get out. "He called me again and told me to come to a hotel he was staying at," A said. She questioned him about the wisdom of having dinner together, and said that Sugimura told her: "I am surrounded by the media and the only safe place I can see you is the hotel room."

She arrived at the hotel room just after 11 p.m. "He was drinking beer and requested room service send up vanilla ice cream, a basket of fruit and champagne," she said. The two ate a bento which Sugimura had brought back to Tokyo from a campaign speech earlier that day in Miyagi Prefecture.

With a view of the Diet out the window, Sugimura talked passionately how becoming a politician was his childhood dream and that he wanted to become the prime minister one day.

As for her future, A said he told her: "I recommend you to go to this community college. The students there party more than study. If you go there, I can make you a fashion model, too. I've got connections."

But she wondered if going to a four-year-college was a better option. "I dropped out of college but I was able to land a job at a foreign company and also was able to become a politician. One's academic record is not so important," he assured her.

He also said having a part-time job during college days is a valuable experience. "What job was the best one of all?" she asked. "When I was a bartender, a lot of girls asked me out. Those were good days," he replied. As the talking continued, he continued to hold her hand and looked into her eyes.

The two awoke the next morning. Sugimura told Miss A that he could get her anything she wanted for her upcoming birthday, except a car, and that he wanted to see her at least once a week. She wanted to know how he felt about her and asked if he had a girlfriend. "That's not important," he said, avoiding her question.

Miss A said Sugimura gave her 5,000 yen for a taxi back home. "That was the last time I saw him," she said. "His advice was not really helpful and I thought I didn't want to see him any more."

He emailed her once in March, asking how the entrance exam went. That was right before the big announcement of his engagement. "I was surprised to hear of his engagement as he had just emailed me at the time," she said.

Disappointed by his rudeness and by how he used his power as a politician to seduce her, Miss A decided to tell her story to Shukan Post.

Shukan Post contacted Sugimura through the phone number that Miss A had provided. He answered but when the Shukan Post reporter identified himself and requested an interview about Miss A, he quickly replied "I am in the middle of a meeting," and hung up. He has since declined numerous requests for an interview.

Sugimura has no sense of risk management as far as women are concerned. There was the girlfriend in his college days, who he told to have an abortion. There was the woman who suffered aphasia after she realized he had cheated on her. And there was the recent scandal of dating the secretary of another politician after the announcement of his engagement. (Translated by Toshiya Fujii)