Crime & Justice

Tokyo prosecutors ask to question Abe over cherry-blossom party spending

Tokyo, Dec 3 (efe-epa).- The Tokyo prosecutor’s office has asked to question former prime minister Shinzo Abe over the financing of parties held annually for supporters, national broadcaster NHK reported Thursday.

The events, attended by hundreds of Abe supporters, were organized each year between 2015 and 2019 in luxury hotels in the Japanese capital, but it is believed the costs of these were not fully declared in political fund reports as required by law.

Abe’s office allegedly paid about $76,500 of the total cost of over $190,000, NHK said, citing receipts and statements from the hotels.

It is believed that the prosecutor’s office is investigating Abe’s chief secretary on suspicion that he did not properly report the revenue from participants’ fees and payments to the hotels, which would constitute a violation of the law on the control of political funds.

Prosecutors have reportedly requested that Abe undergo voluntary questioning about his knowledge of the matter after the Diet session ends on Saturday, NHK said.

Abe, who resigned for health reasons in September after becoming Japan’s longest-serving head of government, has denied any wrongdoing.

The prosecution opened the investigation after a group of about 660 lawyers and legal scholars filed a criminal complaint in May against Abe and two of his aides, accusing them of financing part of his supporters’ expenses, without declaring them.

The last of these dinners was held in spring last year at the Hotel New Otani in Tokyo, on the eve of a traditional government-sponsored cherry blossom-viewing party, and featured some 800 guests.

The event was repeatedly criticized by the opposition, who accused Abe of abusing his position to entertain his followers and garner support, and it generated one of the worst popularity crises that the former prime minister went through during his uninterrupted record period in power, which began in December 2012. EFE-EPA


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