Aide to Ex-PM Abe Questioned over Cherry Blossom Dinner Parties

Society

Tokyo, Nov. 23 (Jiji Press)--Japanese public prosecutors have questioned a government-paid secretary to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on a voluntary basis over dinner parties held by a group of supporters of Abe at a Tokyo hotel on the eve of annual cherry blossom-viewing parties hosted by Abe, it was learned Monday.

The special investigation unit of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office took the move after a civic group and others filed criminal complaints with the office with their claims that the amount of money the supporter group paid to the hotel for the dinner parties exceeded that of fees it collected from participants in the events. The petitioners argued that this violated the political funds control law.

The special squad questioned the Abe secretary, who heads the supporter group, to investigate whether the Abe side covered the gaps between the amounts paid to the hotel and collected from dinner party guests, sources with access to the probe said.

The supporter group is based in the city of Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan. The dinner parties were held every spring between 2013, after Abe launched his second tenure as prime minister in late 2012, and 2019. Shimonoseki is part of Abe's constituency for the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Diet, Japan's parliament. Abe left the post of prime minister in September this year due to ill health.

The fee was set at 5,000 yen per person for the dinner parties, which were attended by supporters of Abe and others. In Diet debates, opposition parties have claimed that the fee was too low and that the Abe side may have shoulder the gaps.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press