Ex-Farm Minister Yoshikawa Pleads Not Guilty over Bribery


Tokyo, Aug. 3 (Jiji Press)--Former Japanese agriculture minister Takamori Yoshikawa pleaded not guilty to bribery charges in his first hearing at Tokyo District Court on Tuesday.

Yoshikawa, 70, is accused of receiving a total of 5 million yen in bribes on three occasions while in office from a former leader of Akita Foods, an egg producer based in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, western Japan, according to the indictment.

The former boss, Yoshiki Akita, 87, has admitted to the allegations. The money was apparently intended to win favors for the poultry industry.

Yoshikawa admitted that he received the money, but said that he believed it was political donations.

In their opening statement, prosecutors argued that the money was given to enlist Yoshikawa's help in preventing international animal welfare standards for better livestock environments, being drafted at the time, from working against Japanese farmers, and in easing eligibility criteria for loans to poultry farmers from government-affiliated Japan Finance Corp.

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Jiji Press