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Cabinet minister under fire for Vogue shoot (Reuters)

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TOKYO (Reuters) – A popular Japanese cabinet minister apologized Friday after a photo shoot she did in Japan’s parliament building for the local edition of Vogue drew fire from opposition parties.

Renho, a 42-year-old former TV presenter who is state minister for administrative reform, appears in the November edition of Vogue Nippon posing near a marble staircase in a short white dress, cream jacket, and ankle-high boots, hand on one hip.

The magazine went on sale roughly a week ago but only became an issue Thursday, when a weekly magazine — more usual reading material for Japan’s staid and overwhelmingly male political establishment — took it up.

Opposition lawmakers promptly denounced the shoot, which accompanied an interview with Renho on her political beliefs and juggling of job and motherhood, as “inappropriate.”

Renho, who is half-Taiwanese and goes by only one name, stressed to a news conference that she had gone through proper channels to set up the photo session, which took place in August when parliament was in recess.

“I frankly apologies if my action was inappropriate or caused concern, as that was not my intention,” she said.

Renho’s office registered her photo shoot with parliament as part of her political activities, which is permitted. Photo sessions for commercial use are prohibited.

Renho, one of only two female cabinet ministers, became popular among voters after news shows focused on her grilling of squirming bureaucrats about the effectiveness of projects at government panel meetings to cut waste.

The incident could become an additional headache for Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who is trying to reach policy deals with opposition parties in a divided parliament as Japan struggles to keep a fragile economic recovery on track.

(Reporting by Yoko Nishikawa;editing by Elaine Lies)

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