The Tokyo metropolitan government has decided that it needs to set up a special panel for investigating the current loan scandal that implicates Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose in a charge of mismanagement of funds during the city’s last election, this revealed by members of the metropolitan assembly on Tuesday. Inose has been at the center of an inquisition that has lasted 20 hours over four days the past two weeks, but he has flipflopped on some of his substantial claims and remarks several times, putting the credibility of his story in doubt.
This special committee is set up with special powers in accordance to the Local Autonomy Law, and it can now charge Inose or any party called to testify with refusal to testify or perjury, or even give a hefty fine. The metropolitan assembly’s inquiry into Inose’s campaign funds will be the first time the assembly has formed a special committee for the purpose of investigating a Tokyo governor. This has damaged Inose’s credibility, and has pushed him to make amends – the governor has pledged that he will not collect his governor’s salary for a year for the trouble this issue has caused. The metropolitan assembly’s leadership will be making the final decision on Wednesday, the assembly members said.
Inose has been implicated in a scandal for allegedly accepting 50 million yen (approx. US$486,000) from the controversial Tokushukai medical group. The loan was reportedly made before last December’s gubernatorial election, putting into a bad light Inose’s use of the funds. Inose has continually claimed that the borrowed the money was for personal purposes and not at all linked to his election campaign. It was therefore, according to him, not a problem that the money was not reflected on his election campaign financial reports. It would seem right now that this move for a special committee would be green-lighted as soon as possible, with the possibility of the committee holding its first session with Inose next Tuesday at the earliest, a source close to the issue revealed.