Yoshimi Watanabe, the embattled head of the opposition Your Party, is reportedly being pressured to resign from his post as the party leader after being embroiled in an 800 million yen (approx. US$7.75 million) loan scandal. A cosmetics company top executive has alleged that the politician did not disclose the money that was lent to him during two election periods, which is a violation of public office election law in Japan.
Reports are saying Watanabe will be meeting with the party’s secretary-general Keiichiro Asao, to discuss the concerns from local assemblymen that the loan scandal involving him will affect their chances for re-election. Around 230 of them are seeking another term and it is believed they will suffer more as a repercussion of this issue rather than the 22 Diet members, since there are no national elections scheduled anytime soon. Several lawmakers also urged party leaders to listen to the local chapters more as they are the ones affected by this. Asao assured the party members during a gathering in Yokohama that they “will not let the current atmosphere drag on” until the local elections in 2015. The Ehime Prefecture chapter of Your Party filed a petition demanding for Watanabe’s resignation as it has affected public trust in their relatively new party.
The six-term lawmaker has denied that he used the loan for election purposes and says he only considered it as a personal loan. “I borrowed the money as an individual and I decided on my own how the money should be spent,” he has said, but without revealing where he actually used it. But Yoshiaki Yoshida, chairman of DHC Corp., said the funds couldn’t be used in any other way than as election campaign funds.” He also says that Watanabe still owes him around 500 million yen.
[ via Global Post ]