TOKYO — Within hours of Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu's inauguration today, his government was buffeted by reports he had fathered an illegitimate daughter.
A spokesman for Kaifu said he could not comment on the reports, which first surfaced in the Nagoya Times, a newspaper published in central Japan.
It said Kaifu had a child from a relationship with a model.
A weekly magazine, the Shunkan Post, quoted the newspaper report in its latest edition but said the woman alleged to be involved denied any such relationship.
If substantiated, the allegation of an illicit sexual liaison would be yet another serious setback to the scandal-racked Liberal Democratic Party, which elected Kaifu because of his unsullied reputation.
Kaifu became prime minister Wednesday following the resignation of Sosuke Uno, who had been accused of paying a geisha for sex. Kaifu, attuned to the public mood of indignation, quickly named women to head the environmental and economic planning agencies in an attempt to clean up the party's image. The appointments were also seen as a counter to the rising popularity of Socialist leader Takako Doi, a woman.
After a series of revelations of corruption implicating most of the party's senior leaders, the LDP in July lost its majority in the upper house of Parliament for the first time since the party was formed in 1955.
"Kaifu's got a clean image," said an LDP member of Parliament earlier in the week. "It looks as if Kaifu has no women problems," said a colleague. "His wife is too strong to allow that anyway."
Kaifu, a 58-year-old former education minister, and his wife have two children and live relatively modestly in an apartment rather than the private houses more typical of Japanese politicians.
Today's inauguration was held at the Imperial Palace under the auspices of Emperor Akihito.