Japanese Vice Finance Minister Junichi Fukuda on Monday denied a report that he had sexually harassed female reporters.
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.
Fukuda denied the allegations to the magazine.
In an audio clip, thereafter, released on the magazine's website on Friday, Fukuda can allegedly be heard asking a female reporter in a bar or restaurant, "Can I give you a hug?" and "Can I touch your breasts?"
The ministry said that following an interview, Fukuda said he has no recollection of having dined with a female reporter.
Along with Fukuda saying he will sue the magazine's publisher for defamation, the ministry said a lawyer will also probe the case to independently confirm the details of the alleged harassment scandal.
The ministry has also asked the female reporters to come forward if they have had any untoward dealings with Fukuda, such as those alleged by the weekly magazine.
Japan's top government spokesperson, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the matter should be dealt with by Finance Minister Taro Aso. However, both ruling and opposition lawmakers have called for Fukuda's resignation.
The allegations against Fukuda come at a time of sinking public support for the Finance Ministry amid a cronyism scandal centered around the ministry and a nationalist school operator with ties to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife.
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.