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Inose apologizes to cantankerous assembly

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

Embattled Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose apologized Friday for “causing concerns and troubles” among Tokyo citizens over a money scandal but refused to step down.

Inose attended a metropolitan assembly session for the first time since the scandal involving an alleged ¥50 million loan from the Tokushukai hospital group emerged last week.

“I apologize from the bottom of my heart for causing concerns and troubles for metropolitan citizens and assembly members who work together on metropolitan affairs. I’m really sorry,” Inose said as the assembly opened a regular session.

Inose reiterated that the money from the hospital and medical facilities chain was for “personal use” and he borrowed it out of worries for his future, and that he repaid the loan without spending any of it.

“It’s natural that I receive criticism for my inconsiderateness,” given that he didn’t pay the money back until September and the deal did not involve interest or collateral, Inose said.

He received what he claims is a loan from Tokushukai Group last November, right before the December election in which he ran for governor, and returned it in late September, right after prosecutors raided Tokushukai offices for alleged violation of the public election law. Inose didn’t list the money in any of the required political funds reports.

The timing raised suspicion that the money was an illegal secret campaign contribution, which Inose denies.

He stressed that he never gave any favors to the Tokushukai group, which runs a center for the elderly and a hospital in Tokyo.

In his 26-minute speech, metropolitan assembly members jeered Inose. Some shouted that his explanation was unconvincing.

At a news conference later in the day, Inose said he has no intention of resigning.

He repeatedly said that he first tried to pay back the loan in early February to Lower House member Takeshi Tokuda, who offered the money in November last year but was too busy.

Inose claimed he wasn’t able to pay it back until Sept. 26 because of his duties, including heading overseas to push Tokyo’s bid to host the Olympics, and to care for his sick wife, who died in July.

Tokuda rakes in cash

Kagoshima JIJI

The Liberal Democratic Party prefectural branch headed by Lower House member Takeshi Tokuda in 2012 received ¥73.3 million in contributions from corporations, including those linked to the scandal-hit Tokushukai medical group founded by his father, up 2.5-fold from 2011, it was learned Friday.

Overall income at the Kagoshima branch reached ¥157.2 million in 2012, up more than 50 percent from the previous year, according to the branch’s political funds report.

Donations from individuals, meanwhile, fell by more than half to ¥13.8 million from ¥32.8 million.