Japan prosecutors decide against charging Abe over party spending

Tokyo, Dec 24 (efe-epa).- The Japanese prosecutor’s office decided Thursday not to file charges against former prime minister Shinzo Abe over the alleged illicit use of funds by his office.

The prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into Abe’s private office following complaints over alleged financing of part of the costs of private events held with supporters between 2015 and 2019 in hotels in the Japanese capital, violating the country’s electoral regulations.

Prosecutors have dismissed the filing of charges against Abe, citing a lack of evidence that would allow them to hold him criminally responsible, national broadcaster NHK reported.

Instead, the prosecution has brought a summary indictment against Hiroyuki Haikawa, one of Abe’s secretaries who headed the political support group that arranged the parties, for not having properly declared the expenses and income related to these private events, according to NHK.

This would constitute a violation of the Japanese political funds control law.

Abe, who resigned from the top post in mid-September due to health problems, denied involvement during a voluntary questioning with investigators on Monday.

The former prime minister is also scheduled to appear Friday before the Diet (parliament) of Japan to give more explanation on the case, which has generated harsh criticism from the opposition and has undermined the popularity of his successor, Yoshihide Suga, who previously served as Abe’s spokesperson and chief cabinet secretary.

The events under investigation are the annual parties held between 2015 and 2019 in luxury hotels to which hundreds of Abe supporters were invited and the costs of which have not been fully declared in accordance with the law.

According to local media, Abe’s office is thought to have paid about $77,000 dollars in participation fees for the attendees, who for their part also covered part of the costs of the parties.

The bills for these hotels indicate that the total cost of the events was around $220,000, well above the amounts charged to attendees. EFE-EPA


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