Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose, Who Helped Bring The 2020 Olympics To The City, Resigns Over 50 Million Yen Loan Scandal

  on December 19 2013 2:38 AM
Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose
Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose attends a news conference at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office in Tokyo on Dec. 19, 2013. Reuters

The governor of Tokyo, Naoki Inose, on Thursday resigned from his post following allegations that he took 50 million yen ($485,000) in cash from a hospital operator that is linked to a vote-buying controversy.

Inose, who was instrumental in bringing the 2020 Olympics and the Paralympic Games to Japan and the city of Tokyo, made the announcement at a press conference after submitting his resignation to Toshiaki Yoshino, president of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly, Japan Times reported.

"I have tried hard to demonstrate my accountability, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to dispel suspicions," Inose said at a news conference Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported. "I cannot allow this problem to hold up preparations for the Olympics."

The assembly will hold an extraordinary session Tuesday to officially approve the resignation and an election for the post could be held on Feb. 2 or Feb. 9.  

Inose, 67, who was elected as governor of the capital city on Dec. 16, 2012, came under fire after it was reported that he received 50 million yen from Tokushukai, the largest provider of medical facilities in Japan, which is mired in a separate scandal involving vote-buying and campaign-funding allegations.

Inose, who denied the allegations had earlier refused to step down, but relented to mounting pressure from not only opposition parties but also from the government and his predecessor, Shintaro Ishihara.

"It's very regrettable considering we worked hard together for the 2020 Olympics," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters, according to the Journal.

Inose has claimed that he received the cash as a personal loan from Takeshi Tokuda, a House of Representatives member and the son of Tokushukai founder Torao Tokuda, in November 2012, just before the announcement of his candidacy for the governor's post.

According to Inose, he returned the loan on Sept. 25, following allegations of irregularities in campaign-funding aimed at the Tokushukai group. Inose blamed his political inexperience for taking an interest-free loan without collateral security to pay for his campaign and for personal expenses.

However, a 20-hour grilling by the assembly exposed inconsistencies in his claims about the cash transactions.

Inose, a prizewinning non-fiction writer, was elected as Tokyo’s vice governor in 2007. He won the race to the governor's post last year, running as an independent candidate, with about 4.33 million votes -- the largest number of votes any candidate has ever won in a Japanese election.

Inose released a new book on Wednesday titled "The Power To Win," which depicted his efforts to bring the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo, the Journal reported.  

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