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Wednesday, June 15, 2016, 12:47

Tokyo governor resigns over misuse of funds

By Associated Press

Tokyo governor resigns over misuse of funds
Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe walks on the hallway of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in Tokyo, June 14, 2016.  (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO — The governor of Tokyo submitted his resignation Wednesday, ending a weeks-long bid to stay in power despite a mounting scandal over his alleged use of political funds for personal purposes.

Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe had come under intense questioning in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly for allegedly using the money for family trips, artwork and other expenses. He looked set to lose a no-confidence motion that lawmakers had been preparing to introduce later Wednesday.

Japanese media reported that the resignation would take effect June 21.

The impact on planning for the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo is unclear. Masuzoe had been scheduled to attend the Rio Olympics opening ceremony in August, and would have accepted the Olympic flag during a handover at the closing ceremony.

His predecessor, who played a leading role in securing the bid for the 2020 Olympics, also resigned over a money-related scandal. Naoki Inose stepped down in December 2013 after revelations that he had received 50 million yen (US$480,200) from a hospital company.

Masuzoe, a former health minister backed by Japan's ruling party, easily won an election in Feburary 2014, and promised a successful 2020 Olympics. He balked at the high cost of the Games, and successfully lobbied to have some events moved to existing facilities in farther-out areas, instead of building new ones in Tokyo.

His troubles began earlier this year with revelations that he had stayed in expensive hotel suites at taxpayer expense on work trips to Europe and the United States, and used his official vehicle to travel regularly to a weekend retreat.

Then came the allegations about his political funds. He hired outside lawyers to investigate, and they found that his use of funds was inappropriate but not illegal.

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