Ryutaro Nonomura, an assemblyman for Hyogo Prefecture, burst into tears after a reporter questioned his use of public funds to pay for frequent trips to an area hot spring. He told reporters, in between breaths as he continued to weep hysterically, "I'm putting my life on the line!"
"[Crying] . . . I finally became an assembly member . . . [crying] . . . with the sole purpose of changing society," he bawled during the three-hour Kobe press conference, according to the Japan Times. "[Crying] . . . This Japan . . . [crying] . . . I want to change this society… [crying] . . . I have staked my life . . . [crying] . . . Don't you understand?"
Such visits were not illegal and had been reported to the assembly office, but totaled 3 million yen ($30,000).
Calls are rising for Nonomura to give an explanation.
Hyogo legislators get 500,000 yen ($5,000) a month for expenses, including travel, but the spending is supposed to be for official travel, research and other costs related to activities of elected office.
Nonomura, who does not belong to a major political party, was found to have gone to other day trips, racking up expenses, including visits to Tokyo and southwestern city of Fukuoka.
Of his 195 day trips, ones to the "onsen" hot-springs resort town of Kinosaki, which lies outside his precinct, were the most frequent.
Beyond finding Nonomura's crying fit strange (and breaking from Japanese tradition of restraint), many are calling for the politician to step down from his role.
"Many people are starting to demand that he resign," Hideaki Asada, of the Hyogo Prefectural assembly office, told the Associated Press. "He is usually not that emotional."