Crime & Justice

Ex-Japanese economy minister questioned over irregular payments

Tokyo, Dec 31 (EFE).- The Tokyo prosecutor’s office questioned former Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and former Education Minister Hirofumi Shimomura for their alleged involvement in a case of irregular financing and payments in the ruling party, local media reported Sunday.

According to leaks to Japanese agency Kyodo, six senior members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have been questioned, including former senior government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno and the party’s former policy chief Koichi Hagiuda, earlier this month. The details of his interrogation remain unknown.

The politicians called to testify are part of one of the two factions against which formal investigations have been opened, specifically the Seiwaken, the most influential of the party and which was led at the time by late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The scandal, which cost four ministers their jobs, including Matsuno and Nishimura, is linked to a series of alleged undeclared income from fundraising events organized by various factions of the party, part of which would have been distributed among dozens of its members.

This would be a violation of the national law on the control of political funds.

In addition to the Seiwaken faction, the prosecutor’s office is investigating the Shisuikai faction, led by Toshiro Nikai, party general secretary, until the arrival of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. According to information published by local media, three other factions could have also been involved.

The black payments, which would have taken place at least between 2018 and 2022, would amount to about JPY500 million (about $3.5 million) in the case of the Seiwaken faction and more than JPY100 million in the Shisuikai faction. EFE

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