Tokyo gov. sought 100 mil. yen from scandal-hit hospital group: source

Before running in the December 2012 gubernatorial election, Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose sought 100 million yen from a hospital organization later at the center of a fraud scandal, a source close to the hospital group said Saturday, challenging the governor's claim that he never asked for money.

On Friday, Inose admitted he borrowed 50 million yen from the Tokushukai hospital and medical facilities chain.

"I did not say anything about the amount of money," Inose told reporters Saturday, denying he asked for 100 million yen.

The source said there is a written record of a phone conversation between House of Representatives lawmaker Takeshi Tokuda and his father, Torao Tokuda, the former chief of Tokushukai, in which the younger Tokuda says Inose asked for 100 million yen for his election campaign.

The 50 million yen was not written in Inose's report on his election campaign.

The public offices election law sets a penalty of up to three years in prison or fine of up to 500,000 yen for anyone convicted of filing false reports with electoral management committees.

Inose told a news conference Friday that the money was a personal "loan" and not an election campaign contribution.

He also said he returned the money in September this year through one of his secretaries.

According to the source, Tokuda, 42, made a telephone call to his father who was receiving treatment at one of the Tokushukai hospitals in Kamakura near Tokyo on Nov. 19 last year, during which he quoted Inose as saying, "I want 100 million yen. I will return (the money) if there is some left."

The older Tokuda, 75, then agreed to give 50 million yen.

The record also showed that the younger Tokuda sought advice as to whether the money should be given to Inose at a Diet members' building.

At Friday's press conference, Inose said that 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 by providing funds.

"I felt it would be rude to refuse when (the other party) offered," Inose said, adding he subsequently met the younger Tokuda to get the cash.

The governor said the venue where he received the money was most likely the building for Diet members.

According to Inose, after receiving the money, he immediately put it in his wife's safety deposit box where it remained untouched.

Inose said he gave back the money after prosecutors launched investigations into the Tokushukai group in September.

On Sept. 17, prosecutors searched the Tokyo head office of Tokushukai hospitals and medical facilities on suspicion employees were illegally involved in the lower house election campaign last year of the younger Tokuda.

Inose said the money was returned to the younger Tokuda's mother, but the mother has said she is unaware of a document acknowledging the loan. Inose said there is such document.

==Kyodo