EDITORIAL: Masuzoe must explain spending with own words, not legal babble
Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe is grossly mistaken if he thinks he has offered convincing answers to questions about his qualifications to head the capital’s government and the administration itself. Serious doubts still remain following revelations about his spending of taxpayer money for personal use.
In recent sessions of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly, Masuzoe was bombarded with questions about his dubious expenditures on hotels, meals, books and artwork. （過剰英訳です）
Tokyo citizens wanted to hear Masuzoe’s own thoughts concerning his moral responsibility for using public money for personal purposes, not the opinions of the lawyers who have scrutinized his questionable expenditures and drawn up a report on their findings.
Assembly members who questioned the governor repeatedly urged him to speak with his own words.
But Masuzoe only reiterated cookie-cutter comments about his “soul-searching” over the spending. He refused to offer the related details he must have discussed with the lawyers or specific measures to fix the problem.
Still, he dared to say, “I wish to regain public trust by fulfilling my responsibility to explain in this way.” This comment sounds like nothing but an expression of defiance.
Masuzoe liked to say the metropolitan assembly represents the capital’s public. But his remarks in the assembly sessions suggest his disrespect for the assembly.
He appears unable to even recognize what is the real issue.
If he really spent part of his political funds, including public money, for personal purchases, he should at least be accused of betraying the trust of taxpayers.
He has worsened matters by failing to fulfill his responsibility to answer the questions raised, causing confusion and disruptions in the work of the metropolitan government.
After seeing how he has responded to the scandal, most citizens of the capital are naturally unwilling to support his desire to retain his post.
The lawyers announced their report on his spending on June 6, the day before the metropolitan assembly started its session. The report said millions of yen in Masuzoe’s expenditures on hotel stays with his family, meals and artwork were “inappropriate.”
Masuzoe needs to take this judgment seriously.
The report includes some telltale signs of his stance toward political funds. When he was asked about his purchase of a book on making soba (buckwheat noodles), for example, Masuzoe reportedly tried to justify the spending by saying, “I once discussed politics while making soba, and the book has been useful for my political activities.”
As for his purchase of historical novels, he said he had bought it “for studying Edo Period customs,” according to the report.
He made it sound like all aspects of his life were related to politics.
Masuzoe described the report as a “harsh” assessment of his expenditures. But most ordinary citizens don’t share his view.
The report didn’t question the appropriateness of his purchases of many calligraphy works, saying they also served both his hobby and his interests as a politician.
As for a silk Chinese outfit he bought in Shanghai, Masuzoe reportedly claimed he could move his ink brush smoothly in calligraphy when he wears the robe. The lawyers accepted Masuzoe’s explanation as “specific and convincing.”
Does the governor intend to continue such expenditures now that they have judged to be “appropriate?”
What does he think about assembly members’ call for him to make a “painful decision?” Masuzoe needs to offer honest and straightforward answers to these questions.
The metropolitan assembly, for its part, is responsible for making an exhaustive inquiry into the governor’s dubious expenditures.
Members of the assembly’s general affairs committee should rigorously investigate the scandal during an intensive session on the topic expected to be held as early as next week.