OSAKA – Disgraced former Osaka governor and comedian “Knock” Yokoyama died of throat cancer Thursday morning at the age of 75, sources said.
Yokoyama, whose real name was Isamu Yamada, was forced to resign from office after being charged with groping a woman during the 1999 Osaka election campaign.
The Kobe native entered show business after working as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Japan. He became famous as a member of the stand-up comedy group Manga Torio. In 1968, he won a seat in the House of Councilors as an independent and went on to serve four terms in the chamber.
He quit the Diet in 1995 in the middle of his fourth term, after being elected Osaka governor. He was re-elected governor in 1999 with huge support, but was forced to step down in December of that year after he was accused of assaulting a female campaigner in a car during the election campaign.
The former governor received a suspended 18-month prison term for the assault. He was the first sitting governor to be indicted on a molestation charge.