/

Your Party chief emailed ¥500 million loan request before ’12 election: Yoshida

Kyodo

Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe sent an email message to a corporate executive asking him for a loan of ¥500 million shortly before the December 2012 general election, the businessman said Friday.

Watanabe described his party’s campaign difficulties in the email, said Yoshiaki Yoshida, chairman of cosmetics firm DHC Corp.

The six-term Lower House member representing the No. 3 district of Tochigi Prefecture, reportedly borrowed ¥800 million from Yoshida. On Thursday, he told reporters that the money was a personal loan and was not used for campaigning or any other political purpose.

But Yoshida said it is his recollection that Watanabe sought the ¥500 million to fund his campaign.

In the email, which was sent to Yoshida’s mobile phone in November 2012, Watanabe wrote that his party planned to field around 60 candidates in the Lower House election. He also wrote that he had ¥500 million on hand but needed another ¥500 million, Yoshida said.

Shortly after receiving the email, Yoshida transferred ¥500 million to Watanabe’s bank account, he said. He said he also lent ¥300 million to Watanabe shortly before the July 2010 Upper House election.

Watanabe has admitted he still owes around ¥550 million of the total ¥800 million in loans.

Yoshida said Watanabe also asked him for ¥2 billion loan before the 2012 Lower House poll.

The small opposition party, established by Watanabe in 2009 after he left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in 2008, was hit by internal strife late last year that caused members critical of his leadership to leave and form a party called Yuinotoh.

Watanabe, 62, a son of former Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Finance Minister Michio Watanabe (1923-1995), was minister in charge of deregulation and financial affairs for Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda from 2006 to 2008.