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June 24, 2017

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Japan police raid apartment of 'crying politician'

TOKYO -- Japanese police Friday raided the apartment of a provincial politician who became an Internet sensation after he was filmed crying like a toddler when confronted about his alleged misuse of public funds.

Media hordes gathered outside Ryutaro Nonomura's apartment complex near the western city of Kobe as authorities searched for evidence linked to the corruption claims.

Local media reported that police may soon lay charges against the 47-year-old, who resigned last week following his much-watched sob show.

Footage of the middle-aged assemblyman for western Hyogo prefecture went viral after he was filmed wailing uncontrollably and banging his fists on a desk as tears streamed down his face at a press conference.

He shouted almost incoherent excuses in between gasping sobs, punctuated by the long intakes of breath necessary to power the next outburst.

Looped footage of the press conference has drawn ridicule from television talk show guests as it was repeated over and over. Social media users have rapidly spread the images worldwide while comedians at home mocked his act.

Nonomura has refused to talk to the media after the now famous press conference.

Elected to the local assembly in 2011, Nonomura is suspected of misusing eight million yen (US$80,000) that he said was spent on hundreds of visits to resorts and other venues for work-related events, but he could not produce receipts, local media said.

The ex-politician reportedly told officials that he had "deleted all data" on the trips from his personal computer and that he could not remember them at all.

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