A 47-year-old politician quickly became an Internet phenomenon Wednesday after crying like a toddler as he tried to explain his profligate use of public funds.
Television talk shows carried looped footage of a press conference in which Ryutaro Nonomura wails and bangs his fists on the desk as tears stream down his face.
The member of the Hyogo Prefectural Assembly shouts incoherent excuses in between gut-wrenching sobs, punctuated by the long intakes of breath necessary to power the next outburst.
Nonomura, who was elected to the assembly in 2011, is suspected of misusing ¥3 million of official allowances.
According to media reports, he spent the money on 195 trips he made to four locations in one year, including 106 visits to the same hot spring resort, all without producing a receipt or a report.
“(Crying) . . . I finally became an assembly member . . . (crying) . . . with the sole purpose of changing society,” he shrieked during the three-hour press conference in Kobe, the prefectural capital of Hyogo.
“(Crying) . . . This Japan . . . (crying) . . . I want to change this society (crying) . . . I have staked my life . . . (crying) . . . Don’t you understand?”
Comments on social media were merciless.
“Is he alright as a member of society, let alone a member of an assembly?” asked Twitter user @nagatokimura.
“There was a kid like that when I was in elementary school. A kid who tried to explain by crying like that. lol,” wrote @chiko86.
One YouTube posting had been viewed more than 730,000 times by Wednesday night.