Nishioka denies party members took Tomobe money

Shinshinto Secretary General Takeo Nishioka on Jan. 31 denied media reports that some of the party’s members received illegal money from Tatsuo Tomobe, an Upper House member who was arrested on Jan. 29 on suspicion of fraud. “All of 15 senior Shinshinto members who served as members of our party’s electioneering headquarters for the July 1995 Upper House election have clearly stated that they did not receive any money from Tomobe,” Nishioka said at a press conference. The 15 include three former prime ministers, Toshiki Kaifu, Morihiro Hosokawa and Tsutomu Hata, party leader Ichiro Ozawa and deputy Lower House Speaker Kozo Watanabe. The media reports said that Tomobe obtained a high ranking on a candidate priority list of Shinshinto for the Upper House election’s proportional representation constituency by distributing money to a number of Shinshinto members.