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Questions raised over how Tokyo mayor secured hot property

[TOKYO] A five-time mayor of a central Tokyo district that includes Japan's financial centre is facing questions over his purchase of a 100 million yen (S$1.352 million) apartment that wasn't available for sale to the general public.

A special committee of Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward local assembly will call for an investigation into how Masami Ishikawa, the district's long-standing mayor, came to own the property. National broadcaster NHK reported March 6 that the apartment was of a type normally reserved by the building developer for landowners or loyal customers. Furthermore, the developer, Mitsui Fudosan Residential Co, received special dispensation from the district to build the apartment block higher than regulations permit.

Mr Ishikawa told reporters yesterday that his son had failed to win a lottery for the right to purchase an ordinary apartment in the building, and was subsequently offered the property by the developer. He wasn't made aware of its not-for-public status, he said, denying that he was directly involved in giving the dispensation for the building, and also rejecting any suggestion of wrongdoing.

The property developer's parent company, Mitsui Fudosan Co, declined to comment on individual cases to Bloomberg News.

Backed by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Mr Ishikawa won a fifth term to run the district in 2017, defeating challengers including those backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party. The area houses the Imperial Palace, the National Diet Building and the Akihabara electronics shopping district, as well as the Marunouchi financial center which is home to Japan's three megabanks.

BLOOMBERG