Bribery trial no impediment in man’s assembly seat quest

Kyodo

Former Wakayama Mayor Takuso Tabita, who is standing trial for bribery and currently in custody, won a seat on the Wakayama Municipal Assembly in Sunday’s local elections, according to the final results released by the local election board.

It is extremely rare for a candidate facing a criminal trial or still in detention to run and win in an election for public office.

Tabita received the largest number of votes out of the 42 winners, the board said. He obtained 6,154 votes, which is close to a historic high in the city’s assembly elections.

His lawyer quoted Tabita, 58, as saying, “I would like to thank voters who believe in my innocence and cast their ballots for me.”

After the lawyer informed Tabita of his victory, the candidate reportedly expressed his desire to help develop the local community.

His assembly term will start Friday, though he will not be able to start serving because he is still in custody and the date of his release on bail is unknown. Tabita will still receive a 660,000 yen monthly salary.

Tabita pleaded innocent during his trial before the Wakayama District Court in March. If convicted and the verdict is finalized, he will lose his assembly seat.

Tabita depended heavily on supporters because he was unable to campaign in person.

The former mayor was arrested and indicted in January for taking 3 million yen in bribes from a local construction company in June 2000 while in office. The firm then obtained 100 million yen in profits from a questionable real estate deal with the municipal government, and police have alleged that the bribe was a reward for swinging the deal.

Transsexual triumphs

A 35-year-old transsexual won a seat in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward Assembly, the ward’s election administration committee said Monday.

Aya Kamikawa, who was born male, ran in Sunday’s election as an independent without any party support as one of 72 candidates battling for 52 seats.

“I will proudly attend the assembly as a woman,” Kamikawa said.

Kamikawa got 5,024 votes, placing her sixth among all candidates in the election. , in which 267,027 votes were cast.

Kamikawa was the first person in Japan to register as an election candidate under a gender different from that listed on the family registry.

However, her election is counted as a win by a male candidate in official election records, according to the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry.