TOKYO (AP) — The Tokyo governor who helped his city secure the 2020 Olympics resigned Thursday after revelations that he received 50 million yen ($480,200) from a hospital company.
Gov. Naoki Inose had come under growing pressure to step down in recent days, in particular from Japanese ruling party leaders who said the continuing scandal could affect preparations for the Summer Games.
"I shouldn't be delaying government operations or stalling preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics any longer," he said at a news conference broadcast live on Japanese television.
He apologized for the ruckus, and said he tried to clarify what happened but could not wipe out public suspicion over the purpose of the money and his link to the scandal-tainted hospital operator whose executives are on trial for campaign law violations in last year's parliamentary elections. "I decided that the only solution is for me to step down as governor," he said.
Inose has said the money he received in November 2012 from the Tokushukai company was a personal loan that he has paid back, and that the owner of the hospital chain didn't receive any favors in return. The Tokyo assembly has set up a committee to investigate.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said it was "unfortunate " that the governor he worked with for Tokyo's Olympic bid had to leave. Abe, added, however, that it is imperative for politicians to provide convincing explanation in order to gain public trust.
Inose was elected in December last year. He said he plans to return to his previous career as a writer.
Tokyo must hold an election to choose his successor by early February.