Japan's top finance bureaucrat denied on Monday a weekly magazine's allegation that he had sexually harassed female reporters and vowed to file a lawsuit against its publisher for defamation, his ministry said in a statement.
Fukuda's denial follows the weekly Shukan Shincho magazine reporting in its Thursday edition that he made remarks to female reporters while drinking that were overtly sexual in nature.
The ministry also called for cooperation from the female reporters who engaged in the conversations mentioned in the magazine article.
Fukuda said in the hearing that he made no such remarks, and that the report is not true.
The Finance Ministry said it will commission a lawyer to continue its investigation into the matter so as to secure objectivity.
"I sincerely feel sorry for causing trouble to finance minister (Taro) Aso and ministry officials by inviting public distrust", Fukuda was quoted as saying.
The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported on Monday that it has learned that Fukuda is expected to resign over the matter to take responsibly for the allegations.