Japan Lawmaker Couple Questioned by Prosecutors over Campaign Scandal

Society

Hiroshima, March 9 (Jiji Press)--Hiroshima public prosecutors have questioned former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai, 56, and his wife, Anri, a 46-year-old House of Councillors lawmaker, on their possible roles in alleged illegal payments to election campaign staff, informed sources said Monday.

The Hiroshima District Public Prosecutors Office has found it necessary to directly question them, both belonging to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, because the former minster is suspected of taking control of his wife's campaign in last July's election for the upper chamber of the Diet, Japan's parliament, the sources said. Anri Kawai won her first seat in the Upper House through the contest in the Hiroshima district.

On Tuesday, the office arrested Hiroshi Tatemichi, 54, a government-paid secretary to her, and two others on charges of violating the election law by paying 2.04 million yen in total to campaign staff, the amount exceeding the legal limit. The prosecutors also searched offices of the Kawais in the buildings for Diet members in Tokyo.

According to informed sources, the smartphones of the two LDP lawmakers were seized on the same day. The prosecutors are analyzing communication records hoping to detect detailed instructions on campaign activities made by Katsuyuki Kawai, who holds a seat in the House of Representaives, through the Line messaging app.

During the questioning, the couple are believed to have been asked to explain how and why such payments were made, people familiar with the case said.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press