The residents of a small town in central Japan have overwhelmingly voted to remove the only female member of their town assembly after she accused the mayor of sexual assault.
Shoko Arai, 51, was fired from her position as a councillor in the town of Kusatsu after over 90 per cent of the residents voted to recall her. They accused Arai of damaging the town’s reputation and degrading the women that lived there, the Guardian reported.
The controversy dates back to November, when Arai released an e-book in which she claimed that she had been forced into a sexual relationship with the town’s mayor Nobutada Kuroiwa in 2015.
In the book, she wrote that the town’s 73-year-old had “suddenly pulled me closer, kissed me and pushed [me] down on the floor”, adding that she “couldn’t push him back”. Kuroiwa denied the allegations and filed a defamation complaint against Arai.
He claimed that his office door and curtains had been open on the day of the alleged incident, a CNN report stated. Arai’s allegations immediately sparked outrage amongst the male members of the town assembly, who demanded her removal.
She was voted out of office in December last year, but the move was ultimately overturned by prefectural authorities. But local leaders launched another campaign, accusing her of “harming the dignity” of the council and demanding a recall vote.
They were were able to garner enough signatures to hold the vote again. According to AFP, 2,542 out of the 2,835 residents of the town backed her removal.
Arai, however, has refused to back down. She called the decision “unjust and unreasonable”, adding that she would not be “terrorised by pressure from people with power”, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported.