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Tokyo governor sorry for lavish spending

TOKYO: Tokyo’s embattled governor has apologised in the face of rising public anger over alleged inappropriate spending.

Yoichi Masuzoe has come under intense media grilling over lavish outlays on overseas business trips, online auction purchases and accommodation at high-end hotels and spas.

Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics and while the drama is unlikely to impact the city’s ability to manage the event, Masuzoe’s growing travails are a fresh embarrassment for the scandal-plagued Games.

Organisers were forced to scrap their original main stadium design due to high costs, had to weather plagiarism accusations over the Games’ logo and are now battling the fallout from a French investigation into US$2mil (RM8.4mil) in alleged bribes.

“I apologise to the people of Tokyo and the metropolitan assembly from the bottom of my heart,” Masuzoe said at the start of his policy speech to the local legislature yesterday.

Masuzoe, 67, cited having “caused huge trouble over the cost of foreign trips” as well as questions over alleged inappropriate use of political funds.

The telegenic, French-speaking Masuzoe took office in February 2014. A former health and labour minister and member of parliament, he pledged an administration free of money scandals.

But trouble started in late April when reports emerged that he was using his official car to be driven at the weekends to and from a cottage south of Tokyo.

It was later revealed that official trips taken to London and Paris with 20 metropolitan officials last year cost taxpayers 50 million yen (RM1.8mil), with Masuzoe flying first class and staying in luxury suites.

He also allegedly used political funds to buy items such as children’s pyjamas. — AFP