Ono’s maid a state-paid aide

LDP member claims housekeeper did 'secretarial' tasks

State minister and House of Councilors member Kiyoko Ono said Wednesday that she registered her housekeeper as a state-paid secretary for about 10 years up to 1998.

The housekeeper stayed at the lawmaker’s home in Tokyo’s Ota Ward, preparing meals and doing housework.

But Ono claimed: “She worked as a secretary by handling phone calls and doing other things. I entrusted my accountant with handling her salary, so I do not know about her payment.”

Ono told an afternoon news conference that the woman was not paid as a housekeeper, but as a secretary paid by the Diet secretariat.

Ono was first elected to the Upper House in 1986 in the Liberal Democratic Party and is currently state minister in charge of the National Public Safety Commission, which supervises the nation’s police. She won a gymnastics bronze medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

She said the woman was first hired as a housekeeper in 1963 to take care of Ono’s child.

Ono said the woman came to her home each day around 9:30 a.m. to prepare food and do housework as well as take phone calls and receive requests for speeches or articles. Ono said the housekeeper also attended meetings on her behalf and delivered things to the office.

The woman “actually worked as a secretary and I have been paying her,” Ono said. “She was like a local secretary. I couldn’t have done my work without her.”

But Ono admitted it probably wasn’t a good idea to register her housekeeper as a state-paid secretary.

She said she registered her housekeeper as her first public secretary in 1988 until she lost her Diet seat in July 1998 because she could not find an appropriate person for the job. The woman had worked solely as Ono’s housekeeper before 1988.

Ono said she did not register the woman as her secretary when she regained a seat in the Diet in the 2001 election.

The minimum annual salary for a lawmaker’s first state-paid secretary is 7.3 million yen, according to the Upper House secretariat.

Ono’s policy secretary said there is no problem with registering a housekeeper as a state-paid secretary. The housekeeper worked as a secretary at the lawmaker’s office and received her entire salary, the policy secretary said.

The policy secretary said the woman, who is no longer a state-paid secretary, still takes phone calls at Ono’s home.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said he was unaware of the matter and wants an explanation from Ono.

Several lawmakers have been held criminally responsible in recent years for misappropriating the state-paid salaries of their secretaries, some of whom assumed that capacity in name only.

In February, Kiyomi Tsujimoto, former Lower House member from the Social Democratic Party, received a suspended sentence for defrauding the state out of 18.7 million yen by falsely registering two women as her secretaries, even though the women had never worked in her office.

Koga admits lying

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Scandal-tainted lawmaker Junichiro Koga has basically admitted lying about his academic record during last November’s House of Representatives election campaign, investigative sources said Wednesday.

His remarks were made during questioning by police and prosecutors in Fukuoka.

Police will file a report on their investigation against Koga, 46, with prosecutors Friday. He will lose his Diet seat if he is found guilty.

Police allege he falsely claimed during the election campaign to have graduated from Pepperdine University in California, a violation of the Public Offices Election Law.

Koga won the Lower House seat from Fukuoka’s No. 2 electoral district on the ticket of the Democratic Party of Japan. But the issue prompted the main opposition party to expel Koga in January.