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Koizumi fights rape claims
Hiroshi Osedo, in Tokyo
JAPANESE Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is in hot water over allegations he had raped a woman when he was a university student in 1967.
Mr Koizumi vigorously denied the allegation in parliament on Monday as utterly false and malicious.
"I am surprised that someone had lodged such a false suit in a court. It is totally nonsense," he said.
"If the rape and arrest allegations were true, how could I have been repeatedly elected (to the parliament)?
"I have been a target of slander and defamation all the time.
"It is impossible for me to cope with every one of them."
An opposition lawmaker suggested that Mr Koizumi should take legal action against the plaintiff if the allegations were false, or step down if the allegations were proved to be true.
Aiji Kimura, a Tokyo-based freelance journalist and publisher, filed the civil suit against Mr Koizumi in the Tokyo District Court on March 30, urging the Prime Minister to resign over media reports that he had allegedly raped a woman and was subsequently arrested.
Mr Kimura, who failed to present evidence at the court, such as an arrest record or the victim's identity, is seeking \1 million ($12,800) in damages for mental trauma.
"I am very much convinced that the Prime Minister had raped a woman when he was a student at Keio University," Mr Kimura said. "I feel ashamed as a Japanese citizen.
"It has been a common knowledge among former students of Keio University that he had raped a female student at the same university," he said.
Mr Kimura said a number of assemblymen at Yokosuka city, Mr Koizumi's constituency 50km south from Tokyo, knew of the rape case.
Mr Kimura submitted to the court a magazine story published in June 2002 in which Hajime Fujiwara, a US-based journalist, was quoted as saying: "Some 30 years ago I was a resource adviser to Mitsui and Co in Paris where I was preparing for a university degree.
"A man visiting Paris from London told me that a Japanese minister's son who was arrested for raping a woman was sent to London for studies until the news sensation died down.
"I didn't know then which minister's son was involved.
"Now I know that Prime Minister Koizumi 30 years ago was studying in London, and that his father was the defence minister."
Mr Kimura also submitted to the court a tabloid newspaper report by Professor Yoshihiro Tsurumi at New York State University.
"It is said that Mr Koizumi's father, then the defence chief, sent him London for studies over fears that the rape case would cause the sensation involving police investigations," Professor Tsurumi wrote.
A Japanese researcher at Politics and Economics Research Institute said on his website on June 11: "Koizumi, who failed to graduate from Keio University in March 1967, was arrested by Kanagawa police after he allegedly raped a girl student in Shonan district. He was sent to London for study in May 1967.
"When he was serving the second term in parliament, Koizumi was arrested again over a similar rape incident. They settled the case out of court. The victim was reportedly a high school girl," the researcher said.
This week's the Friday magazine citing a school mate reported: "Koizumi was the central figure of a students' playboy club called Keio University. Students' Association in Yokosuka."
The Tokyo District Court is expected to deliver its judgment on July 15.