By YUICHI NOBIRA/ Staff Writer
September 23, 2021 at 17:09 JST
Anri Kawai addresses Hiroshima voters during the 2019 Upper House election campaign. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
A high-profile lawmaker couple found guilty of breaking campaign finance laws insist that 150 million yen ($1.4 million) provided in party funds to fight an election were never used to bribe voters, a position with which the ruling Liberal Democratic Party apparently takes no issue.
Katsuyuki Kawai, a former justice minister, and his wife, Anri, a former Upper House member, submitted a report to the LDP on Sept. 22 that contained a breakdown of how the funds received from LDP headquarters in Tokyo were used.
However, no receipts were disclosed at a news conference held by Masahiko Shibayama, an LDP acting secretary-general, to explain the contents of the report. Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai did not attend.
According to Shibayama, LDP headquarters in Tokyo transferred 75 million yen to a regional branch in Hiroshima Prefecture headed by Anri and another 75 million yen to a different Hiroshima branch headed by Katsuyuki between April and June 2019.
Of the 150 million yen total, 120 million yen came from party subsidies distributed to the LDP and funded by taxpayer money.
Shibayama explained that about 124 million yen was used to print a local party publication and the rest of the money went to cover personnel and office rent costs.
“The report said all payments were made with accompanying receipts and checked by an auditor looking into political funds,” Shibayama said. “My understanding is that no funds to buy votes came out of the 150 million yen.”
When pressed by reporters whether the LDP would conduct a further investigation, Shibayama said, “This is the best that we can do.”
He noted that the Kawais revised their political fund reports and submitted corrected documents to the Hiroshima prefectural election management committee.
Anri was found guilty of buying votes in the 2019 Upper House election in which she won a first term. She lost her seat after the guilty verdict was finalized.
Katsuyuki was also found guilty of vote-buying, given a three-year prison sentence and a 1.3 million yen fine. He has appealed the Tokyo District Court verdict.
Visit this page for the latest news on Japan’s battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
A mother of two sons recounts the days when she lived with the novel coronavirus.
Historians describe the Nomonhan Incident, a little-known 1939 Japan-Soviet border conflict, as the starting point of World War II.
The Asahi Shimbun aims “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” through its Gender Equality Declaration.
Let’s explore the Japanese capital from the viewpoint of wheelchair users and people with disabilities with Barry Joshua Grisdale.