Photo/IllutrationHiroshi Ueno, parliamentary vice health minister, left, in the Diet with Finance Minister Taro Aso in June (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Parliamentary vice health minister Hiroshi Ueno resigned on Aug. 28 despite denying a weekly magazine report that he sought payments from a staffing service company to help foreign workers obtain visa status certificates.

“There are no facts that I used my influence in violation of the law,” Ueno, 48, a Lower House lawmaker of the Liberal Democratic Party, said in a statement announcing his resignation. “The (magazine) report is regrettable.”

He explained that he was stepping down because “I could invite misunderstandings if I stayed in the post of parliamentary vice minister.”

According to the Shukan Bunshun’s edition that went on sale last week, the staffing service company in Tokyo applied to the Justice Ministry for visa status certificates for foreign workers.

Ueno urged the Justice Ministry to issue the certificates as soon as possible, and he asked the staffing company for 20,000 yen ($190) per application, the magazine article said.

The company provided Ueno’s former secretary with a list of 187 foreigners whose visa applications had been sent to the Justice Ministry.

Based on the list, the former secretary asked the ministry about the visa prospects of the 187 applicants, and conveyed the ministry’s responses to the company, according to the magazine.

The Law Prohibiting Mediation Remuneration bans lawmakers from exerting their influence on public servants and receiving remuneration from those who have asked them to do so.

Ueno did not hold a news conference to explain the allegations or his decision to resign.

The Asahi Shimbun sent questions to Ueno’s office on Aug. 20 about the weekly magazine report but had received no response as of Aug. 28.

The former secretary also told The Asahi Shimbun on Aug. 28, “I will refrain from commenting.”

The staffing service company said its executives had met Ueno and handed over a list of foreigners to the former secretary.

However, the company said: “We never asked (Ueno) to exert his influence. And we never offered money (to him).”

Ueno, a former economy ministry bureaucrat, was elected to the Upper House once and to the Lower House twice.

Since October 2018, he has been in charge of labor issues as a parliamentary vice minister of health, labor and welfare.

The government will not appoint a new vice minister because it plans to reshuffle the Cabinet in September.