Embattled Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose reiterated Tuesday that he will forgo his salary for a year to take responsibility for the scandal surrounding what he claims was a ¥50 million personal loan from the Tokushukai hospital group, which is being probed for election law violations.
Inose’s remark came on the second day of a Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly committee session.
“I’d like to give up my governor’s salary for one year as my way to take responsibility. So I’m thinking of proposing an ordinance enabling that to the current assembly session,” Inose initially told the committee Monday.
On Tuesday, he mostly repeated himself in an apparent attempt to dodge accusations.
The assembly would have to pass an ordinance to withhold Inose’s salary.
According to the metropolitan government, the monthly salary for the chief of the capital is usually ¥1.481 million, but that amount currently stands at ¥1.3329 million, since it was slashed by 10 percent in 1999 for financial reasons.
On Monday and Tuesday, Inose was grilled over the dubious loan during hours of exchange in the assembly’s general affairs committee, which saw Inose repeat his apology amid jeers.
The governor repeated his explanation that the money he borrowed from Lower House politician Takeshi Tokuda last November was a “personal loan,” rather than political funds for his gubernatorial campaign last December.
Tokuda is the second son of Tokushukai founder Torao Tokuda, whose hospital chain was probed by prosecutors in September for allegedly breaking the election law. Inose claims that he paid the loan back the same month.
Eight arrests have been made so far in relation to the election law violation probe into rewards allegedly provided to employees of the hospital group who were recruited to participate in Liberal Democratic Party candidate Tokuda’s successful Lower House campaign last December.
On Monday, Inose was summoned to the assembly’s 15-member general affairs committee, which oversees matters handled by bureaus, including the governor’s office.
The committee’s board decided Thursday night to summon Inose to the assembly to determine why he failed to disclose the ¥50 million “personal loan” in the financial statement he issued after being elected governor last year.
The metro ordinance requires the governor to report any loans. The governor revised the statement Nov. 22.
It is rare for a governor to attend an assembly committee session, and Inose’s appearance was the first by a governor in 13 years.
The last time was when then-Gov. Shintaro Ishihara took part in the financial committee, according to an official of the assembly’s secretariat.
During the questioning sessions Thursday and Friday, the members of the ruling LDP and coalition ally New Komeito didn’t seek any responses from Inose, claiming they didn’t think there was enough time.
The assembly sessions usually involve members asking a package of questions to metro officials, including the governor, which are then answered collectively, a practice that differs from standing committees, which allow members to ask questions individually.