After opposition Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe resigned over his involvement in suspicious loans from a corporation, the secretary-general of the party, Keiichiro Asao has announced his candidacy for the vacated post. Elections to replace the former position held by Watanabe will be held on Friday.
The 50-year old veteran lawmaker from the House of Representatives pledged to “protect the party” and reestablish the public trust, which was tainted after Watanabe’s loan activity was brought to the spotlight. Asao vowed to “pursue reforms” in the party as the public supports their policies. He quit the Democratic Party of Japan and founded Your Party together with Watanabe.
Watanabe’s name has been dragged in a loans scandal in the past month. His accounts on where he actually spent the loan worth ¥800 million yen that borrowed from DHC Corp.’s chairman have been inconsistent. While initially maintaining that he did not have the money at hand and used it for personal expenses, he did an about-turn and instead claimed the funds were in his wife’s bank account and was used for election-related expenses. He also announced that he already paid ¥550 million from the total amount in a news conference held on April 7. Watanabe has since resigned from his post while awaiting an investigation by his party. An incomplete report of election-related funds by a public official is a violation of the public office election law in Japan.
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