Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose admitted Friday he borrowed 50 million yen ($500,000) from a hospital organization, which is at the center of a fraud scandal, before running in the December 2012 gubernatorial election that he won.
Inose said at a news conference the money was a "loan" received in his personal capacity and does not constitute election campaign funds.
There was no representation of the funds in Inose's report on his election campaign, which was filed with the metropolitan government's electoral management committee in December. His report mentions only 30 million yen of his own funds and 500,000 yen presented by his supporters' group.
The public offices election law sets a penalty of imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen for those who file false reports with electoral management committees.
Inose said he returned the funds in September this year through one of his secretaries after prosecutors that month launched investigations into lawmaker Takeshi Tokuda, the son of Torao Tokuda who is a former chief of Tokushukai, over election fraud involving the pair and more than 200 of the chain's employees.
On Nov. 12, the prosecutors arrested six people linked to the younger Tokuda on suspicion of illegally providing rewards to people who worked on the House of Representatives member's December 2012 general election campaign.
Inose said he received the money directly from Tokuda, most likely at a building for Diet members.
The governor said he corrected Friday a report on his assets and loans he compiled at the time he assumed office in December to reflect the 50 million yen.
Inose said while making the rounds during his election campaign, he met Torao Tokuda in mid-November and introduced himself as a successor to Shintaro Ishihara, and that the elder Tokuda offered to support Inose in the form of giving funds.
"I felt it would be rude to refuse when (the other party) offered," Inose said.
Inose said he was only able to return the money after the prosecutors' raid because he was busy campaigning for Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and also had to attend to his wife who was hospitalized.
On Sept. 17, the prosecutors searched the Tokyo head office of Tokushukai hospitals and medical facilities on suspicion its employees were illegally involved in the election campaign last year of the younger Tokuda.
According to Inose, after receiving the money, he immediately stored it inside his wife's safety deposit box and that only he and his wife were aware of the money.
The investigators have not arrested group founder Torao Tokuda who is suffering from an incurable disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The prosecutors suspect that 563 of the younger Tokuda's campaigners, who were Tokushukai group employees, received a total of 147.5 million yen in rewards from the six during the election campaign in violation of the public offices election law.
Inose won the Dec. 16 Tokyo gubernatorial election which was called after his predecessor Ishihara, now co-head of the opposition Japan Restoration Party, resigned.