4 Years in Prison Sought for Ex-Justice Minister Kawai

Society

Tokyo, April 30 (Jiji Press)--Public prosecutors demanded on Friday a prison term of four years and fines of 1.5 million yen for former Japanese Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai over a high-profile vote-buying suspicion.

Kawai, 58, is suspected of handing cash to local politicians and supporters in a conspiracy with his wife to buy votes for her July 2019 House of Councillors election campaign in violation of the public offices election law.

Kawai bears heavy responsibility for masterminding the scheme and distributing most of the cash himself, prosecutors said in their closing statement for the trial at Tokyo District Court, presided over by Judge Yasuaki Takahashi.

"There is no extenuation at all, as he tried to buy votes in an extremely self-centered act," the prosecutors said, describing the crime as "unprecedentedly malicious."

Kawai, who quit as a lawmaker of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament, in early April, "betrayed voters and destroyed the people's trust in the fairness of elections" despite being a lawmaker himself, the prosecutors said.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press