KOCHI – Kochi Gov. Daijiro Hashimoto resigned Friday after the prefectural assembly adopted a resolution calling on him to quit over allegations of a shady transaction between his former campaign aide and a construction company.
The 57-year-old governor, who was re-elected in November last year for a four-year term, said he would seek to return to the post in a gubernatorial election likely to be held next month.
After the assembly passed the legally nonbinding resolution by 22 votes to 15, Hashimoto immediately tendered his resignation to the president of the assembly, which approved the resignation.
The resolution was sponsored by the assembly’s largest faction, a 15-member, antigovernor alliance of Liberal Democratic Party members, including the assembly speaker, and a faction known as the Kemmin Club, which has four members in the assembly.
It is unusual for a prefectural governor to resign over a nonbinding resolution, as opposed to a no-confidence motion, which is legally binding.
Hashimoto said at a news conference Friday afternoon that he could not fully carry out his duties, with the assembly having passed a resolution urging him to resign.
“I will run for (the gubernatorial) election and ask for voters’ judgment on how serious the Kochi people’s distrust is of my administration,” Hashimoto said.
Although no official dates have been set, campaigning for the election is expected to start on Nov. 11, with voting to take place on Nov. 28.
Hashimoto, the younger brother of former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, said Thursday that he was not involved in any shady deals, but he apologized to the public for causing distrust.
In September, a prefectural assembly committee compiled a report on the alleged transaction between the former chief of the secretariat of Hashimoto’s support association and a construction company that was awarded a dam construction contract by the prefecture.
The report alleges that when Hashimoto was running for governor for the first time in 1991, his secretariat chief borrowed 100 million yen from the chairman of the association to finance the campaign and used funds provided by the construction company to repay the chairman.
The loan was repaid within three months of Hashimoto first being elected as Kochi governor on Dec. 1, 1991. A consortium that included the construction company was awarded a dam contract in January 1994.
Hashimoto, a former NHK TV reporter and known as one of the first reformist governors, drew public attention with his progressive policies, including the introduction of a forestry and environmental tax and the simplification of the National Athletic Meet.
Hashimoto’s relationship with the assembly was troubled, however, as local assembly members blamed him for a lack of communication with the assembly and the prefectural government. Critics alleged he was all show and no substance.
Hashimoto won a landslide victory in the 1991 election with the backing of the Social Democratic Party, beating candidates endorsed by the LDP and the Japanese Communist Party. He was at the time the youngest governor elected in postwar Japan.
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