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'Necessary for crisis management': Japanese mayor questioned over $34K office shower

The shower unit that has been installed in a washroom adjacent to the mayor's office at Ichikawa City Hall is seen in this image provided by the Ichikawa Municipal Government.

ICHIKAWA, Chiba -- The mayor of this east Japan city is under scrutiny from a city assembly member over the installation of a shower unit costing around 3.6 million yen (about $33,800) in his office.

    The shower, installed in October 2020 in the new Ichikawa City Hall, itself partially opened that August, was taken up at a regular meeting of the Ichikawa Municipal Assembly on Feb. 26. There, Mayor Hirotami Murakoshi explained that the shower would be used during disasters, when he would have to spend long periods at work.

    "I'm sure we can obtain the understanding of many of the city's residents," he stated.

    According to the city government, a glass-walled shower unit was added to the corner of the washroom connected to the mayor's office on the building's fourth floor. It is reportedly intended that while public employees will also be able to use it, the washroom that the shower is in can only be accessed via the mayor's office.

    From its initial plans, the new government office building was envisaged with facilities for staff to stay overnight and perform their duties during disasters, and three showers were set up on the fifth floor. After the building's completion, it was reportedly decided that, from a crisis management point of view, another shower would be necessary for the mayor's office.

    At the Feb. 26 city assembly meeting, independent assemblyman Masafumi Koshikawa inquired about the decision. He raised issues with the new shower saying that the costs for it had come out of excess funds unused during the new building's construction, and over the fact that it had been installed after the tour of the building given to the city assembly, media and others. He also said, "I cannot accept that this has been installed in secret."

    Mayor Murakoshi offered responses including: "It was shortly after the building was opened, and it is absolutely proper to add functions for the purpose of us doing good work that will bring happiness to everyone living in this city."

    (Japanese original by Tamiko Kobayashi, Funabashi Local Bureau)

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