National

Ex-Tokyo governor's private use of official car deemed illegal

Kyodo

The audit and inspection body of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has concluded that it was illegal for former Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe, who resigned in June over a political funds scandal, to use his official car for private purposes.

The body urged the metropolitan government to have Masuzoe return the expenses incurred in using the official car for private purposes, citing his trips to baseball games and a concert last year, both with his family.

According to the body, Masuzoe used the official car for baseball games at the Tokyo Dome on Aug. 18 and Aug. 29, and a concert on Dec. 23 at NHK Hall.

While use of the official car is left to the governor, the audit and inspection panel said attending the sporting events and concert were “unnecessary” to running the metropolitan government.

Masuzoe stepped down as governor June 21 amid mounting criticism over his use of political funds, costly overseas business trips as well as frequent visits by official car to his vacation home in a hot-spring resort outside Tokyo.

Before his resignation, Masuzoe defended his actions before a metropolitan government committee, saying that watching the games and concert “greatly contributed to Tokyo’s cultural and sports policies.”

Based on interviews with related parties, including Masuzoe’s secretary at the time, the body said it could not find any reason for why the official car was used.

Masuzoe has been replaced by former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, who was elected Sunday.

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