The governor of the prefecture of Osaka, which includes Japan's second largest city, resigned today after it became clear that he would be indicted on charges of sexual harassment.
The governor, Knock Yokoyama, was ordered last week to pay $107,000 to a 21-year-old university student who charged that he had groped her in the back of a campaign bus in April, three days before he was reelected.
The award was the largest in a sexual harassment suit in Japan.
Yokoyama said last week he would not resign, but the student filed a criminal complaint against him. The governor also appeared to have miscalculated the public reaction to his response to the suit. He denied the woman's charge that he had groped her for a half-hour and publicly ridiculed her. She said she was too frightened to complain or cry out during the incident. He refused to appear in court to contest the civil suit.
The Osaka local government censured him on Friday and called on him to resign if he was indicted on criminal charges. Prosecutors searched his office Monday.
Yokoyama, 67, whose formal name is Isamu Yamada, is half of a former comedy duo called Knock-Out. He received 2.35 million votes--the largest ever for an Osaka governor--when he was reelected in April. But his denial of the woman's charge and refusal to appear in court brought an avalanche of criticism.
He entered a hospital on Monday for treatment of a heart ailment and handed his letter of resignation "for personal reasons" to the vice governor from his hospital bed.
The student, in a statement released by one of her lawyers, said, "I am not satisfied with the way he resigned.. . . .To me his attitude looks like he has not reflected on what he has done. I wanted him to apologize and reflect, then resign."
Sexual harassment suits have increased steadily since a revised law prohibiting sexual harassment and sex discrimination went into effect on April 1, just a week before the alleged incident with Yokoyama.
Hideo Yamada, a sexual harassment lawyer, said the zeal of the prosecutors was "unprecedented. It will definitely have a big effect on future sexual harassment cases. The prosecutors acted and responded very seriously toward this case, beyond society's recognition of sexual harassment. So the effect will be enormous."
An election for a new governor of the Osaka prefecture will be held within 50 days.
Special correspondent Akiko Yamamoto contributed to this report.
CAPTION: Knock Yokoyama, who resigned today, was ordered to pay $107,000 to a student who charged that he had groped her.