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Third-party investigation into Tokyo governor's spending unconvincing

Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe, right, arrives at a conference room at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters on June 6, 2016 with his lawyers for a news conference. (Mainichi)

Attorneys who investigated the alleged misuse of political funds by Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe have denied the illegality of his spending while acknowledging that it was inappropriate for him to use such funds for family trips and buying art pieces, among other cases.

It was the conclusion expected considering that the investigation into Masuzoe's spending was carried out in accordance with the Political Funds Control Act, which does not specify restrictions on how such funds should be spent. However, it is not the legality of his spending that is being questioned, but rather, the people of Tokyo are concerned about Masuzoe's qualifications as the head of Japan's capital over the use of political funds in ways in which he can be accused of mixing his public duties and private affairs. Furthermore, the way Masuzoe is handling the issue as the leader of Tokyo has become a matter of concern for the Japanese people as a whole.

Masuzoe assumed office after his predecessor Naoki Inose resigned over a money scandal. Many voters must feel betrayed after expecting clean politics from Masuzoe, as he once wrote in his book that "those who do not have the determination to serve the public separately from their own personal greed should not become a politician." Nearly 25,000 cases of complaints made to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reflect their disappointment.

Masuzoe repeatedly said that he will explain about the allegations to members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly who represent the people of Tokyo each time a fresh suspicion surfaced. Apart from Tokyoites, other people throughout the country are paying attention to how Tokyo assembly lawmakers will grill the embattled governor, and if they are soft on him, the assembly itself could lose the people's confidence. Voters will not accept politicians' excuses that they don't have the capacity to campaign for a potential gubernatorial election (should Masuzoe resign) or assembly race ahead of the upcoming House of Councillors election. (By Shigeyuki Shinohara, Tokyo City News Department)

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