There’s nothing he can do. On November 9, Fumiko Kinoshita, a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, who had been “hiding in the shadows” since her election in July after causing bodily injury by driving without a license, appeared in public for the first time in about four months.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly will continue to call for her resignation, but it is unlikely to break down the thick wall of “councilor status” protected by the current law.
Why does Mr. Kinoshita insist on remaining a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly despite the harsh public criticism? We looked into the “real reason” for this.
“I would like to explain about the accident and the incident as soon as they are sorted out. Once again, I would like to express my heartfelt regret and apology for causing so much trouble to so many people and for something that should never have happened. I am truly, truly sorry.”
Wearing a red dress and a jacket, Kinoshita appeared in public for the first time in 128 days and bowed deeply before the press who had gathered to hear his explanation. It was a press conference full of things, things, things… but Mr. Kinoshita chose “not to quit” and “not to throw up.
As for the 817,600 yen per month in councilor’s remuneration, he explained that he thought that he should not receive the total of almost 1.92 million yen from the three times he was paid, and donated it to NPOs and other organizations. As for the other 500,000 yen per month that he receives as political activity expenses, he said, “I will not request the total of 1.5 million yen for the three months,” emphasizing that he was “effectively unpaid” during the period he was in hiding.
However, when the press asked him about the reason for his driving without a license, he refused to answer, saying “I can’t tell you” or “I can’t talk about it now. When asked why he did not resign from the Diet, he simply replied, “I take seriously the will of the Diet and the will of the voters,” and ended his questioning as if to ward off calls for him to fulfill his accountability.
“Mr. Kinoshita arrived at the office for the first time since his election to stand before the Public Enterprises Committee of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, to which he belongs. However, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly has twice recommended his resignation, and the chairman has repeatedly sent him summonses to attend the meeting. The LDP refused to hold a meeting of the committee because of criticism from other factions that the LDP should first fulfill its accountability.
The fact that the assembly (committee), which is the center of the assembly members’ activities, is not being held in an abnormal situation has been condemned by a number of people, such as, “This is shamelessness,” “If he is not feeling well, he should quit the assembly and take a rest,” and “We are not paying taxes for Mr. Kinoshita to make donations. Some of them said, “If the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly can’t make him resign as a councilor, then it is equally responsible.
However, the path to expulsion, the heaviest form of “punishment” under the Local Autonomy Law, is difficult because Mr. Kinoshita has been diagnosed as being in poor health.
“The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly was prepared to issue ‘disciplinary punishments’ if Mr. Kinoshita repeatedly ignored ‘summonses’ by the chairman, as they were related to assembly activities, but now that he has come out in public, this move has been blocked.
Why did Mr. Kinoshita not resign from the Diet and continue on his “thorny path” despite the criticism? A source in Kinoshita’s home district of Itabashi Ward explained the reason for his decision, slurring his words by saying, “The reason lies with a certain party.
“I don’t think anyone believes this, but Mr. Kinoshita explained to the press that there are people who want him to continue. However, it seems that some of his supporters were harassed by a certain party in the past, and some of them really advised him not to resign because it would only please the party. There is a possibility that he is using this as a source of strength and is running the course of not resigning.
However, an official of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly has a different view.
“However, one person involved in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly made a different observation: “There is nothing the assembly can do about it, and Kinoshita has already won.
The reason for this is that Mr. Kinoshita revealed that he had reached a settlement with the other party to the accident. In September, Mr. Kinoshita was sent to the prosecutor’s office on suspicion of violating the Automobile Driving Punishment Law, and if he is sentenced to imprisonment or more, he will automatically lose his job. If he were to be sentenced to imprisonment or worse, he would automatically lose his job. However, most observers believe that this is unlikely because of the settlement reached.
In addition, the next “stage” will be the regular session of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly in December, but “if we continue not to hold committee meetings because of Mr. Kinoshita, we won’t be able to discuss ordinance bills and other matters necessary for the lives of the people of Tokyo. If we continue to forgo the committee meetings because of Mr. Kinoshita, we will not be able to discuss ordinance bills and other matters that are essential to the lives of the people of Tokyo.
Mr. Kinoshita will also receive a “bonus” of about 2.05 million yen if he is still in office on December 1. His “tenacity” in stressing the continuation of his legislative activities seems to be overwhelming other lawmakers.
Reporting and writing by： Kenichi Ogura
Director, ITOMOS Research Institute
Photo： Jiji Press