politics

Mayor pledges to pay restitution for installing sauna in his office

16 Comments

Ikeda is a pleasant city on the outskirts of Osaka prefecture and home to one of Japan’s two Cup Noodles Museums, honoring its inventor Momofuku Ando. But for the past few months a scandal has put its mayor, Hiroki Tomita, in hot water like so many dried noodles in a Styrofoam cup.

It all started in September of this year, when Mayor Hiroki Tomita brought a home sauna to his office and installed it in a small room next to the waiting room. During his lunch break, Tomita would slip into something more comfortable and take a steam for about 20 minutes.

However, around mid-October, Tomita’s wife advised him to rethink the practice, because a mayor having a sauna, that he installed, in his office probably wouldn’t go over to well with the general population. He agreed and pulled it back out.

Only he was not fast enough, it would seem. On Oct 22, a news website broke the story of Tomita’s workplace sauna and the people were steaming mad. The following day, Mayor Tomita held a press conference to apologize for his sauna and “mixing public and private matters.” He also promised to reflect on what he did and reimburse the electric costs.

Normally, that would be the end of it, but suddenly on Nov 17, Tomita once again called the press to declare that he had successfully worked out the electric costs of his sauna. He claimed to have used the sauna 30 times in the office for periods of 50 minutes, including the time it took to heat up. Rounding up at a rate of 23 yen per kilowatt hour, that worked out to 690 yen, all of which he dutifully returned to the city’s coffers.

Online readers of the news, most of whom lived outside of Ikeda, were confused, both by the tiny refund and over what the big deal was in the first place.

“That’s kind of funny. Were they really angry about this?”

“The labor costs of calculating the bill was probably higher.”

“It’s not a matter of money, it’s about morals.”

“He’s a little ‘different’ from normal mayors, isn’t he?”

“What about the cost of installing the sauna?”

“It’s fine, I bring stuff from home to work to make myself more comfortable too.”

Added to these sentiments is one overlooked but important factor that Tomita brought up in his initial apology. He was a high school and college football player.

As a result of his student athletics, he developed a herniated lumbar disc among other injuries, and used the sauna alleviate the pain.

Sources: Mainichi Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Testing Japan’s stay-home sauna solution, the Ofuro de Sauna Kasa【Photos】

-- Japanese mayor responds to public after “spamusement park” onsen video reaches 1 million views

-- Capsule hotel in Osaka offers VR, 100,000 volumes of manga, saunas, possibly a capsule

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
Login to comment

Heck, Mexicans take 2 hour siestas,

Um, Mexico's not exactly a wealthy or productive nation known for smart economic policy or for being innovative. They are, however, very well known for graft and corruption at all levels of government and business.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Agree with Kumagaijin, at least it's a healthy expenditure, regardless of the moral stance in this. Every office should have more health-oriented facilities such as treadmills, stationary bikes, nap pods, punching bags, etc.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Imagine the health care savings Japan would have if all the oyajis and salary men took saunas every day at work instead of smoke breaks every couple hours. Heck, Mexicans take 2 hour siestas, why can't Japanese take saunas?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Last week I took my sofa and albino llama comfort animal into work to make myself more comfortable."

Brilliant!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There are very positive health benefits of using saunas, especially for those of advancing age.

I do not begrudge the Ikeda mayor one yen of the tax money that has gone to making him a more productive and a more healthy mayor.

Banzai!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The majority of the comments against it, is probably from people who never used one before, don't like to get very hot, don't understand the health benefits.

That's not it. One shouldn't bring their personal stuff in to a public servants office. Not doubting the benefits, but do it at home and not at the office, especially the City Hall.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sauna can be purchase for cheap this days. I have one myself which I use daily.

You want people who make important decisions to be healthy and have a clear mind.

The majority of the comments against it, is probably from people who never used one before, don't like to get very hot, don't understand the health benefits.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

An important point is who paid for the installation of the sauna. If he paid from his own money, and used public money just for electricity, I don't think it is such an issue, especially considering his medical issues. When I was working in a very cold office, I bought an electric leg warmer with my money, and nobody thought inappropriate I used the company electricity; and nobody complains about charging personal cell phones.

However, if he used public money for buying and setting up the sauna, that would be a problem, because there are clear restrictions on what items you can buy for the office using public money

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Government officials have it tough being under the spotlight, but as public officers it is necessary. Stop the improper acts when they are small, prevent the ones that are big. No opinions myself. This is a matter for his constituents.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh, does this mean I should refund the electricity consumed by my office coffee machine?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have no problem with it. None at all. And about the electricity or other cost for private rather than public use, none of us can say they never used a pen, office materials, telephones, etc from office. Agreed that there is still a line between company cost( private) and government( public) cost but this was no more than a case of error of judgement as to the perception by the public.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

¥690 for 30 days of sauna use.

¥23 to heat up a sauna? Yeah right.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

I robbed a bank but I'll return the money so we're good right?

9 ( +11 / -2 )

“It’s fine, I bring stuff from home to work to make myself more comfortable too.”

Lmao! Don’t we all? Last week I took my sofa and albino llama comfort animal into work to make myself more comfortable. I don’t see the big deal here.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

a scandal has put its mayor, Hiroki Tomita, in hot water like so many dried noodles in a Styrofoam cup

Ouch!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This just an obvious gaffe. There are so many other hidden ways and loopholes they use to take the people's money.

The biggest projects such as the procurement of weapons (no one can confirm the actual costs/potential for kickbacks) they get away with year after year, which is why they are keen to join in on emphasizing conflict with their neighbors.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites