What finally prodded Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe to tender his resignation Wednesday over alleged misappropriation of political funds was a decision by the Liberal Democratic Party, which together with its ruling coalition partner Komeito backed Masuzoe in the 2014 gubernatorial race, to go along with an opposition-proposed no-confidence vote. The option of defying the looming vote, thus clinging to his position and dissolving the assembly appeared hopeless, since he would have had to quit anyway if a majority of the new assembly members after the snap election voted against him for a second time.

Even as the scandal made headlines week after week, the LDP seemed reluctant to push Masuzoe to quit because it had yet to find a candidate with a good chance of winning the special election to replace him, and was wary of holding the next election in the summer of 2020 — around the time Tokyo will be hosting the Olympics Games. The LDP's turnabout reportedly came as it dawned on party leaders that Masuzoe's problem was negatively affecting the party's chances in the July 10 Upper House election, the campaign for which kicks off on Wednesday. If that's case, it appears to be the political convenience of the parties in power that scripted the end to the protracted battle over Masuzoe's financial irregularities.

Masuzoe, a popular scholar of international politics-turned Upper House member who served as health minister for two years starting during Shinzo Abe's first stint as prime minister, once rated in media surveys as a leading prime minister hopeful. He quit the LDP after it fell from power in 2009 to form a small party of his own. When Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose resigned in disgrace in 2014 over a money scandal, the LDP endorsed Masuzoe as a candidate who could win against ex-Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa — who was running on an anti-nuclear agenda and was backed by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi — despite gripes in the LDP ranks that Masuzoe had deserted the party in a time of trouble. He ended up receiving 2.11 million votes, more than twice that of his closest opponent in a race that drew seven candidates.