Tokyo governor denies allegations he misused fund

Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe on Friday denied allegations that he knowingly misused money from his political fund group, rejecting allegations levied at him earlier in the week.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Masuzoe apologized for causing public concern and said any incorrect balance in payments regarding his expenses claimed from his former political funds body would be returned.

The scandal-plagued governor said the suspicion was caused by the fact that his family were staying at the same hotel at which he was also attending an official conference and said any funds that were mistakenly expensed would be returned.

Masuzoe’s remarks follow harsh public criticism for his lavish lifestyle which has called into question on Japan’s political funding laws and the Tokyo governor’s possible misappropriation of funds.

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Earlier this week, Masuzoe’s expenses were called into question by a weekly magazine claiming that he paid $3,400 for a two-day stay at a luxurious resort hotel in Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, and expensed them as “conference fees” which were paid through his political fund group called Global Network Kenkyukai.

The Tokyo governor has also been implicated in previous scandals, and spent $82,800 on art which he expensed through his fund group, listing the valuable collectibles as “supplies” and “expenses”.

Masuzoe, a former upper house member and governor of Tokyo since 2014, has also faced a public backlash this week for using an official car to make private trips to his villa located in the exclusive hot spring town of Yugawara in Kanagawa Prefecture, as well as traveling to a slew of international destinations using business class, and dining at expensive restaurants in Tokyo, including Italian and sushi restaurants.

In terms of the official car, Masuzoe has been found to have used the car 48 times to travel to and from his private villa since May last year, as well as using the car to travel to different work locations.

Under Japan’s Political Funds Control Law, politicians must report the use of political funds to both the internal affairs ministry and election administration commission.

(China Daily 05/14/2016 page9)

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