Embattled Tokyo Gov Naoki Inose on Thursday submitted his resignation over a loan scandal linked to his election campaign.
Inose, who was elected head of one of the world's biggest cities a year ago Wednesday, said he had handed his letter of resignation to the head of the assembly.
"I have decided to resign from the post of Tokyo governor," Inose told a hurriedly arranged press conference.
"I intended to fulfil my duty of explaining to the city assembly, people of Tokyo and people of the nation, but regrettably I could not clear doubts over me. It's solely because of my lack of virtue."
Inose also said he could not let the scandal impede preparations for the Olympics in 2020.
In November, Inose admitted he received 50 million yen from the political family behind the medical group Tokushuka before running in last year's gubernatorial election.
He failed to declare the sum in campaign accounts, and insisted the loan was for personal use. Under the Japanese election law, campaign treasurers must report all income, such as donations, related to electioneering.
Inose's resignation came amid mounting pressure for him to step down from the metropolitan assembly and the government.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is keen to resolve the issue "as soon as possible" to prevent the scandal from hampering preparations for the Olympic Games, Kyodo reported Wednesday, citing an Abe aide.
"The fact that Inose received a large sum of money from someone who does business related to his authority (to approve hospital openings) is enough to warrant his resignation," Masahiko Komura, deputy head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told reporters Wednesday, according to Kyodo.
Inose said in November that he was offered the money by the Tokudas, the family running Tokushukai, and that he felt "it would be rude to refuse when (the money was) offered".
But public broadcaster NHK reported that it was Inose himself who reached out to the Tokuda family and asked for 100 million yen before the election.
Prosecutors have investigated the Tokushukai group, which runs dozens of major hospitals throughout the nation, over an allegation of illegal electioneering practice, including providing money to campaign workers, at the time the younger Tokuda ran for the lower house.
Inose said he paid back the "loan" after the investigation surfaced in September.
He said he was only able to return the money after the probe because he had been busy running Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympics, and attending to his wife, who was hospitalised.
Inose has undergone more than 20 hours of questioning by the general affairs committee of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly. The assembly has decided to form a special panel to investigate the matter further. The panel will have the power to summon witnesses and file charges if it finds that witnesses, including Inose, have lied.© AFP/ Japan Today