TOKYO -- House of Representatives legislator Hodaka Maruyama, who was sacked from Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) after controversially alluding to war with Russia to regain control of the Northern Territories, engaged in other offensive behavior while visiting the disputed islands, the lower house Committee on Rules and Administration heard on May 30.
Maruyama drank at least 10 glasses of cognac and continually made lurid, drunken proclamations while on a visa-free visit to the islands, according to reports provided by the Cabinet Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which dispatched officials to accompany him and other delegation members.
When he scuffled with another member of the delegation on the visit, he reportedly asserted that as an incumbent member of the House of Representatives, he had special immunity that meant he couldn't be arrested while the Diet was in session.
The Northern Territories exchange trip took place from May 10 to 13. Maruyama joined it under a recommendation from a lower house special council on issues relating to Okinawa and the Northern Territories.
According to the government, Maruyama was cautioned ahead of his participation through explanations by the Cabinet Office and the group executing the trip. They warned him to be mindful of a number of points, including acting as a member of the team and being careful not to consume inappropriate amounts of alcohol.
However, at Kunashiri Island on May 11, the same day Maruyama landed, he drank at least 10 glasses of cognac during a visit to a Russian household. After returning to his lodgings, he reportedly suggested to former residents of the Northern Territories that it would be good to get the Northern Territories back through war with Russia. In relation to his attempts to make an evening excursion, he asked, "Is that place with the neon sign a bar?" and "I want to go feel up some breasts."
When colleagues on the trip encouraged him to return to his room, he told them, "You're not the police, so why stop me going out? Sitting Diet members are immune from arrest, so I'm not going to get arrested." According to testimony, the commotion continued until around 1 a.m. on the morning of May 12.
Following widespread criticism of his remarks, Maruyama excused himself from a lower house Committee on Rules and Administration's request for him to attend a directors' meeting, citing a doctor's recommendation that he needed to rest for two months.
The committee concluded that Maruyama must provide a written explanation of his conduct by June 3, 2019. The ruling parties are treating his outburst seriously, considering revising a censure motion to subject him to harsher measures.
The Northern Territories claimed by Japan consist of four Russian-held islands off Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido.
(Japanese original by Masahiro Tateno, Political News Department)