Shinshinto to cooperate in police probe of Tomobe

Shinshinto said Feb. 4 that it will cooperate with police in their investigations concerning Upper House member Tatsuo Tomobe, a former Shinshinto member under arrest on suspicion of fraud.

During a hastily arranged general meeting of Shinshinto lawmakers from both houses, the legislators agreed to fully cooperate with police and disclose all information related to the crime. “It has been widely reported that some Shinshinto lawmakers violated the Public Officers Election Law by receiving money from Tomobe to ensure he won in the July 1995 Upper House election,” Shinshinto Secretary General Takeo Nishioka said.

“It is our political responsibility to find out what happened and what did not happen when the party decided to put Tomobe’s name on our party’s candidate-priority list for the poll,” he added. Tomobe was arrested last Feb. 5 on suspicion of illegally collecting money from the public. Orange Kyosai Kumiai, a mutual aid society run by Tomobe’s political organization, is alleged to have unlawfully collected more than 9 billion yen from about 2,000 people. Most of the money is believed to have been used up by Tomobe, his family and his aides.

During the meeting, some participants urged the party leaders to take aggressive steps to disclose irregularities regarding Tomobe. “We should make much more positive efforts to disclose who, if anyone, received money from Tomobe,” said Shozo Kusakawa, a Lower House member.

Others criticized former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa for his absence from the meeting. It is known that Tomobe was introduced to Shinshinto’s leaders through Hosokawa.