The governor of Tokyo, Yoichi Masuzoe, is currently caught up in an expenses scandal that has been unfolding for the past few weeks in the pages of the press.
Masuzoe — a former scholar and the most powerful directly elected official in Japan — is under fire for his extravagant expenses, facing harsh criticism from the Japanese Communist Party and the media as well as the central government, former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, and the governors of other prefectures whose expenses are dwarfed by Masuzoe’s. Initially combative, he has since backed down, apologized and admitted some inappropriate claims, including occasions when he claimed expenses for private functions.
There is speculation that the pressure on Masuzoe from his political opponents and the media might even be enough to force his resignation, which would be disastrous timing. It would mean a Tokyo gubernatorial election this summer before the Rio Olympics (which the governor has to attend for the handing-over ceremony) and another in four years’ time just before the Tokyo Olympics, which is already mired in its own scandals.
That being said, Masuzoe is by far the most cosmopolitan of all recent governors and likely the most competent. A former Upper House lawmaker, he speaks several languages and has made efforts to court the world stage for Japan’s capital.
Masuzoe’s ex-wife has come out and revealed some unpleasant stories about their marriage. Though much of Masuzoe’s colorful private life — several marriages, children born out of wedlock — was already known, certain details have been raked over on social media and in the press in recent days.
But one of the more curious things to reappear was not a sordid detail about an affair or alimony payments.
No, it’s a video game released 24 years ago.
In 1992, Coconuts Japan Entertainment released Yoichi Masuzoe: Famicom until Morning for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The long-forgotten adventure game was selling on online auctions for ¥1,000 but is now going for 10 times the price.
Though discarded as a boring game in which you play out business meetings, the content of the video game has now proven more than a little ironic. It includes pithy words of advice from the Masuzoe avatar about not “mixing private and public”, almost exactly echoing the euphemistic phrase used to describe the allegation that his expenses are not wholly work-related.
One of the few resources about the game in English is currently Video Game Den, who have a good summary of the game content:
In this intra-office text adventure game, the player is put in the shoes of a businessman who has to instruct his secretary, give phone calls, act favorably to his peers, gain the favor of his boss and finally find out about the company’s factions. The game is divided into four different chapters. Once a chapter is completed, Yoichi Masuzoe asks the players a series of twenty questions. These quiz-questions, however, do not affect the gameplay and only seem to influence the ending of the game. The game’s controls are fairly straightforward — an action menu lets the player look around, pick and use items or talk to people from the active view. The bottom of the screen displays text or available choices. A simple password system allows the player to save his game at will.
So do you fancy playing Masuzoe’s game and listening to his career advice?