Tokyo's governor, who helped bring the 2020 Olympics to his city, has resigned after acknowledging he received money from a scandal-plagued hospital company.
Naoki Inose said the nearly $500,000 payment he received was a personal, interest-free loan and that the money has already been returned. Nonetheless, critics maintain the payment amounted to bribery and have pressured him for weeks to resign.
Inose said in a live televised address Thursday he did not want the scandal to affect Tokyo's preparations to host the Olympic Games.
"We should not let metropolitan government work stop over my personal issues, especially at this time when Japan has just about come out of a long tunnel of darkness and is about to make a running dash toward the [Summer Olympic Games] of 2020," said Inose.
The author-turned-mayor, who was elected a year ago, apologized for the scandal. He portrayed himself as naive, saying he was an "amateur politician" and was not aware of all the procedures to which he was supposed to adhere.
Inose says the Tokushukai hospital chain did not receive any favors for the payment. The company, which runs hospitals across Japan, has been accused of past electioneering practices.