Kato expresses regret over Tomobe’s arrest

Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Koichi Kato said Jan. 29 the arrest of Tatsuo Tomobe — coming in the year the Upper House celebrates its 50th anniversary — was especially regrettable. “All lawmakers should make efforts to win back the public’s trust in the Diet and its members,” Kato told reporters.Kazuo Shii, secretary general of the Japanese Communist Party, pointed the finger not only at Tomobe but at Shinshinto as well, saying the party is responsible for causing an inexcusable situation. “The truth about the huge amounts of money allegedly distributed to politicians (to secure a seat in the Diet for Tomobe) should be thoroughly disclosed,” Shii said.Naoto Kan, coleader of the Democratic Party of Japan, echoed some of what Shii said, claiming that Shinshinto bears a heavy responsibility for the recent scandal. “It is because voters wrote in the name “Shinshinto” and not the name “Tomobe” during the July 1995 Upper House election,” he said.Shinshinto Secretary General Takeo Nishioka offered repeated apologies to the public Jan. 29 over the party’s inability to recognize the true nature of Tomobe. However, Nishioka did reiterate that there is no evidence indicating that Tomobe bought himself a high position on the priority candidates list that Shinshinto had drawn up in response to the proportional representation system. “We flatly deny the allegation,” Nishioka said.