Crying Japanese politician quits over funds scandal

Kyodo News

Posted at Jul 11 2014 10:54 PM | Updated as of Jul 12 2014 06:54 AM

KOBE - An assemblyman in western Japan's Hyogo Prefecture, whose hysterical weeping at a press conference was widely circulated on the Internet, resigned Friday over his dubious spending of public funds, assembly officials said.

The Hyogo prefectural assembly filed a criminal complaint with police the same day against Ryutaro Nonomura, 47, on suspicion of drafting false reports on his political funds, the officials said.

Nonomura spent about 3 million yen without acquiring any receipts during a total of 195 one-day business trips to such destinations as a hot spring resort in Hyogo, Tokyo and Fukuoka from the city of Nishinomiya in fiscal 2013, according to his political funds report.

He also purchased stamps worth some 1.75 million yen in the business year that ended in March, the report showed.

The independent assemblyman said during questioning by the assembly that he does not remember details of the day trips and has deleted all the data on travel destinations and his political activities from his personal computer.

Nonomura has said he will return the funds that he received over the past three fiscal years and cannot account for, according to the assembly officials. A civic group in Hyogo is also planning to file a criminal complaint over the assemblyman's dubious spending.

At a three-hour news conference on July 1, Nonomura burst into tears, banged his fist on a table and yelled at reporters.

The assemblyman insisted he spent the money for "vigorous political activities" and denied any wrongdoing, but he failed to provide a full accounting of how the funds were specifically used.

The footage of his press conference posted online was played more than 2 million times and major news organizations in Japan and abroad reported the incident.