You may not remember the name Ryutaro Nonomura but you’ll almost definitely recall the press conference he gave last July, which was later dubbed the “crying conference” here in Japan. The incident, which saw the then provincial politician weeping, cupping his ear cartoonishly, and wailing like a man possessed as he attempted to explain what he’d done with a significant amount of government funds turned him into a pop-culture iconporn parody and all, and ensured that he would go down as one of the most famous figures of 2014, for all the wrong reasons.

So now about half a year later, what has become of the disgraced assemblyman?

■ Prison?

Your first guess might be that Nonomura is either still on trial or locked up for the embezzlement of government funds. It’s okay if you don’t remember the actual details of what he did beneath the spectacle of his sobbing – the sight (and sound) really was that powerful.

During his term as an assemblyman for Hyogo Prefecture, Nonomura is said to have made false spending reports and fabricated receipts allowing him to pocket a considerable amount of public money intended for business trips and related expenses. During an investigation it was found that he had reported around 340 day trips in a three-year period, which would work out to about one every three days, including 106 visits to Kinosaki Onsen alone. As many of the trips defied the laws of space and time, people began to catch on and the gig was up for Nonomura.

Screenshot: Fox News

Although, the amount he is said to have taken was around 16.84 million yen (US$143,000), Hyogo Prefectural Police have only charged him with defrauding the government of only 2.2 million ($19,000) because it was all they could support with evidence. In addition, the police have declined to arrest Nonomura because he had paid back all of the money taken in travel expenses. This means that the former assemblyman is still a free man, but may face charges if the Public Prosecutor’s Office chooses to go forward – a move that the police have strongly endorsed.

■ Pariah

Despite the gesture of returning the money, the threat of legal action still hangs over the head of Ryutaro Nonomura. However, you could argue that it pales in comparison to being called “the shame of Japan” and having your face recognized by anyone of any age all over the country and around much of the world.

Screenshot: 20 Minutes

According to the police investigation, Nonomura had returned to his parents’ home in Osaka where he is said to mostly stay inside with the curtains drawn day and night. Japan’s News Post Seven interviewed a resident of the assemblyman’s new neighborhood who claimed to have had an encounter.

“Only once in November I ran into Nonomura. He was going out in a dark jacket and jeans with a cap worn very low over his face. He looked fatter than he did during the conference. When our eyes met he was startled and covered his face with a mask.”

Indeed the prevalence of people wearing surgical masks in Japan, especially during the winter months, gives Nonomura a small but welcome respite from people memorizing his outfits and weight.

Hyogo Prefectural Police also believe that the former lawmaker is currently living on what little is left of his savings after paying back the prefecture, as well as his parents’ pension. Perhaps it’s fitting for Nonomura to end up taking care of his parents. After all, that was one of the reasons he started his alleged fraud.

Screenshot: Tanja News

■ Purpose?

It’s easy to envision a politician like Nonomura swirling a glass of brandy and smoking a cigar as he forges official documents and cackles at all us suckers padding his pockets. But really, would a big old softy who cries like that really be into such cold and calculated trickery simply for personal gain?

Screenshot: BBC News

In the years leading up to his stint as assemblyman Nonomura had made some campaigns such as for the mayor of Nishinomiya City. In the end he carved out a spot on the Hyogo Prefecture Assembly. However, as a result his funds had run dry from failed campaigns.

Despite his relatively comfortable assemblyman position, Nonomura couldn’t look past the empty bank account, elderly mother, and chronically ill father to look after. So, as he testified to police, when he saw a way to get some extra cash he took it. He took it way too far, but he took it nonetheless.

Claiming expenses to trips to far corners of his prefecture, he would allegedly mock up fake receipts and launder the received money through postage stamps or gift certificates while using the other chunks of the money on food and, ironically, his own pension plan payments.

According to the police investigation, when the scheme was uncovered, Nonomura turned to his mother. She is said to have been the one who, after scolding her son, told him return all of the ill-gotten money.

Screenshot: Nai Dunia

■ Purgatory

For the time being at least, Ryutaro Nonomura can’t even get a part-time job due to his recognizable face and notoriously sticky fingers. It would seem that his best options would be to hope some business might take him on simply for the publicity or to try to get a book deal out of the whole thing. If he does end up doing time, the latter would seem the best choice as he would at least have plenty of time to write.

Given the path he has taken now, we might assume he will just wait either in prison or his de facto house arrest until people eventually forget then try to carve out a new life for himself somewhere.

Sources: News Post Seven, Wall Street Journal, Naver Matome (Japanese)
Video & Top Image: YouTube – newviralvideos