Japanese Lawmaker Maekawa Pleads Not Guilty over 2021 Election

Society

Nara, April 25 (Jiji Press)--Japanese lawmaker Kiyoshige Maekawa on Monday pleaded not guilty to charges of violating the public offices election law over the general election for the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the country's parliament, last October.

The 59-year-old Lower House member of opposition Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) said in the first hearing of his trial at Nara District Court that he had "not done anything banned by the public offices election law." Maekawa is suspected of having sent letters calling on voters to cast their ballots for him before the start of the official campaign period for the Oct. 31 general election.

The case against the lawmaker is being handled under the "100-day trial" fast-track process. If given a fine or a more severe sentence, he will have his civil rights suspended for five years in principle, meaning that he would lose his Lower House seat.

In the western Japan city of Nara on Oct. 14, Maekawa is suspected of sending postcards with the phrase "Write Kiyoshige Maekawa for the single-seat constituency and Ishin for the proportional representation bloc (on your ballots)," as well as envelopes containing documents urging people to vote for him, according to the indictment. They were sent to 35 locations.

The defense side had told reporters that Maekawa only asked people on the list of alumni of Kansai University, his alma mater, to address postcards for the election. It argued that the move was "preparation for his candidacy," not activity before the start of the campaign period banned by the law, and therefore was legal.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press