Crying Japanese politician who became internet sensation to quit over expenditure scandal

Ryutaro Nonomura, whose extraordinary display of emotion went viral on the internet, quits over unexplained expenditure of public funds

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 2:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 2:57pm

An assemblyman in western Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, whose hysterical weeping at a press conference was widely circulated on the internet, offered to resign on Friday over his dubious spending of public funds, sources said.

Ryutaro Nonomura, 47, spent about 3 million yen (HK$230,000) 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 the last fiscal year, 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.

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.

Watch: Viral video of Japanese politician crying

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

Tadao Kajitani, chairman of the assembly, had urged Nonomura in writing to quit if he could not explain how the money was spent. Members of the Liberal Democratic Party, who form the largest group in the assembly, had also demanded that Nonomura resign immediately.

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 cannot account for, according to the sources. A civic group in Hyogo is planning to file a criminal complaint over the dubious expenditure.