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LDP member’s home, office searched

Kyodo

Prosecutors on Friday searched the home and office in the city of Kagoshima of Lower House member Takeshi Tokuda of the Liberal Democratic Party on suspicion of illegal campaigning in December’s general election.

Tokuda, 42, is the son of Torao Tokuda, 75, founder of one of the country’s biggest hospital chains, the Tokushukai Group. More than 200 hospital employees allegedly supported Tokuda’s election campaign through paid work.

Under the Public Offices Election Law, political candidates are banned from making payments to campaign workers.

Investigators from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office also searched locations in Tokyo connected with Tokuda’s relatives.

The Tokushukai Group, which operates more than 60 hospitals and some 280 other medical facilities across the country, also assigned numerous employees to campaigns when the elder Tokuda was a Lower House member from 1990 to 1996 and from 2000 to 2005, group sources said.

The practice continued when Takeshi Tokuda ran as his father’s successor in the same Kagoshima district in 2005, and when he was re-elected to a second term in 2009, the sources said.

The younger Tokuda may have been aware of the campaign practice all along because he served as an official secretary to his father from 2002 to 2005, according to investigative sources said.

The elder Tokuda, a native of Tokunoshima Island off Kagoshima, is currently hospitalized in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture.