Tokyo Gov. Masuzoe Rapped At Metro Assembly Over Money Scandal

Tokyo Gov. Masuzoe rapped at metro assembly over money scandalEmbattled Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe told a metropolitan assembly session on June 7 that an investigation conducted by attorneys into his alleged misuse of political funds is "trustworthy because it was strictly conducted by third parties."

He then repeated mostly similar statements to those he made at a news conference the previous day when he announced the outcome of the probe.

Both ruling and opposition parties in the metropolitan assembly are poised to hold intensive deliberations on the issue at the General Affairs Committee sometime after June 10 to grill Masuzoe over the allegations on the grounds that the governor has failed to fulfill his accountability.

During the June 7 plenary session, Masuzoe underscored the validity of the investigative report, which concluded that his use of political funds was "not illegal although some of it is inappropriate." He then provided an explanation in line with the report.

He expressed regret over causing confusion to the metropolitan administration. "I failed to sincerely listen to the opinions of Tokyo residents and metropolitan assembly members," he said.

Masuzoe reiterated he will stay on as governor of Japan's capital. "I'd like to mend my ways as if I were reborn," he said.

Four parties -- the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Komeito, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and a group led by the Democratic Party -- posed questions during the June 7 plenary session.

Their questions focused on the governor's use of political funds, which has been criticized as mixing up his personal affairs with his official duties. One of the assembly members who posed questions said, "A governor who can't clear up allegations against him shouldn't talk about the future of the metropolitan government."

In an extremely rare move, the directors general of various bureaus at the metropolitan government were asked to answer questions about policy measures.

Shigeru Kanbayashi of the LDP began his question with his criticism of the governor. "I'm angry, as are residents, assembly members and metropolitan government employees."

"You're extremely stingy," he said. A member of the ruling bloc responded by saying, "You're right."

Kanbayashi sarcastically criticized Masuzoe's announcement that he will sell off his vacation home in a hot spa resort area in Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, which he traveled to and from by official car. "Aren't you simply moving to another hot spa area?" he said, inviting derisive laughter in the chamber.

Masuzoe expressed regret over his practices saying, "I'll try not to invite misunderstanding."

However, the governor failed to provide any new explanation on the allegations against him.

Angry assembly members bitterly criticized the governor saying, "Why can't you answer?" and "Just selling off your vacation home isn't enough to fulfill your responsibilities."

Many of over 200 citizens who were at the public gallery of the assembly hall to listen to the session were appalled at Masuzoe's statements. One of them said the governor was apparently "answering questions based on a scenario."