• Kyodo

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A senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party criticized Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe on Tuesday for using political funds for private purposes.

Masuzoe “needs to reflect seriously (on his conduct),” LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki said at a news conference. “As the top official of Japan’s capital, he must pull himself together.”

Tanigaki stopped short of saying whether Masuzoe’s use of political funds for private wining and dining, as well as for family stays at a hotel outside Tokyo — allegations to which he has admitted — should lead to his resignation.

“As a person involved in national politics, I should refrain from making hasty comments” about the governor’s fate, Tanigaki said.

The LDP backed Masuzoe in the gubernatorial election in 2014.

Similarly, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, also an LDP lawmaker, told reporters Monday that the governor “as a politician, needs to explain appropriately” to the public.

On Friday, Masuzoe apologized for his conduct and said he will correct a total of ¥455,505 he listed as official expenses in political funding reports.

Masuzoe, who is also under fire over his use of official cars for frequent visits to his resort villa and allegedly extravagant expenditures for overseas trips, said he has no intention of stepping down.

In a related move, it was found Monday that he also booked expenditures for buying paintings through an Internet auction site in political funds reports.

But Masuzoe denied any wrongdoing in this case, saying he uses them as “a tool for exchanges with foreign people and as research material.”

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