NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo -- Nishinomiya Mayor Takeshi Imamura announced his retirement during an internal ceremony on Jan. 4, and then apparently said "I'll kill you" to a reporter who asked questions afterward, it has emerged.
"I'm not going to run in the next mayoral election. I have no intention whatsoever of getting involved in any political parties or elections," Imamura, 45, reportedly said. The statement came during a ceremony aimed at senior staff members marking the start of the new year at the municipal government office.
Imamura made it clear that he will not put his name forward for the next mayoral election on April 22 -- coinciding with the end of his current mayoral term -- and that he will retire from the political world.
After the ceremony, Imamura apparently said the words, "I'll kill you" in response to a male reporter from a national newspaper wanting to confirm Imamura's statement, according to a source close to the Nishinomiya Municipal Government.
Imamura became mayor of Nishinomiya after winning the election in April 2014. He sparked controversy when he said he would refuse press coverage if he found the media to be "biased." Imamura also refused to retract comments after telling junior high and high school students that he used to smoke cigarettes when he was their age after the municipal assembly demanded he take back the remarks.
Regarding the next mayoral election in Nishinomiya, former House of Representatives member Toshiro Ishii, 46, ex-Deputy Mayor of Nishinomiya Toshio Motoi, 66, and Hyogo Prefectural Assembly member Masakazu Yoshioka, 43, have put their names forward as candidates.