Assembly OKs Inose’s resignation

Kyodo

The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on Tuesday approved Gov. Naoki Inose’s resignation.

Inose, elected Dec. 16, 2012, is stepping down after just 372 days, the shortest period in office in the capital’s history, after coming under intense criticism for taking ¥50 million from scandal-tainted hospital chain operator Tokushukai.

Inose received the cash ahead of last December’s gubernatorial election.

Tokushukai’s founding family is mired in vote-buying allegations involving Lower House lawmaker Takeshi Tokuda, a son of its founder, Torao Tokuda.

Inose, a 67-year-old former writer, was instrumental in Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

The special election to choose his successor will likely be held Feb. 9. The vote will be the third for Tokyo governor in three years.

Last December, Inose garnered 4.33 million votes, the most ever won by an individual in a Japanese election.

He is the second Tokyo governor to give up the office without being elected to a second term. The other was Yukio Aoshima, who finished his one term in 1999.

Inose’s predecessor, Shintaro Ishihara, picked Inose as his deputy governor in 2007, praising his role in getting the central government to privatize Japan Highway Public Corp., the predecessor of Japan Highway.

Ishihara named him as his preferred successor when he stepped down to run for the Diet.

Inose has said he “borrowed” the ¥50 million from Tokushukai, the largest operator of medical facilities in Japan, in a personal capacity on Nov. 20, 2012. The money was not reported to authorities as campaign funds. If the money is found to have been used for the election, it would constitute a breach of the Public Offices Election Law.

Inose also faces allegations that in November 2012, when he was vice governor, the elder Tokuda told him Tokushukai wanted to acquire a hospital in Shinjuku run by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Although Inose has denied discussing the matter with Tokuda, assembly members grilled him in recent weeks about whether he had done any favors for Tokushukai in exchange for the cash.

Inose has said he repaid the money Sept. 25 this year, shortly after prosecutors raided the Tokushukai group on suspicion of election law violations.