Prosecutors search lower house member’s home, office over vote-buying

Prosecutors search lower house member’s home, office over vote-buying

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Tokyo prosecutors on Thursday searched the home and the Diet office of House of Representatives member Mito Kakizawa over allegations of vote-buying in a Tokyo ward mayoral election in April.

The 52-year-old, who on the same day left Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is suspected of paying money to several Koto Ward assembly members to get a mayoral candidate he backed elected. His constituency office has already been searched.

The development comes at a time when criticism of the LDP has been growing amid a series of political fund scandals involving senior government and party officials belonging to the largest faction, formerly led by slain Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Officials of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office head to Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Mito Kakizawa’s home in Tokyo’s Koto Ward on Dec. 14, 2023. (Kyodo)

Kakizawa has said the money was provided as a customary mid-campaign contribution ahead of a ward assembly election also held in April, but prosecutors suspect he intended to buy votes for Yayoi Kimura in violation of the election law.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Kakizawa told his secretaries and others to distribute 200,000 yen ($1,400) uniformly to the ward’s assembly members. While some refused the money, around five people are believed to have accepted it, while others who first received it later returned the money.

Several secretaries and assembly members have been questioned regarding the matter.

The son of a former foreign minister, Kakizawa resigned as senior vice justice minister in late October after admitting that he had proposed using an online advertisement in Kimura’s campaign, which is prohibited by the election law.

Kimura, who stepped down as mayor in November after using the paid advert on YouTube to urge people to vote for her, previously served as an LDP lower house lawmaker.

Violators of the public offices election law regarding vote-buying face imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen. Under the same law, those who use paid advertisements online for specific candidates face imprisonment of up to two years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen.


Related coverage:

Ruling party lawmaker suspected of vote-buying in Tokyo mayoral race

Japan ruling lawmaker’s office searched over mayor race scandal

Japanese senior vice finance minister quits over unpaid taxes




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