Justice Minister Midori Matsushima appeared to be clinging to office on Friday after receiving a criminal complaint over her election conduct.
Takeshi Shina, vice secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Japan, on Friday filed the charge at the Tokyo District Court, accusing Matsushima of breaking the election law by distributing “uchiwa” (rigid handheld fans) to voters in her electorate.
Shina said Matsushima handed out the promotional gifts bearing a caricature of her accompanied by name and title at several festivals and events in her Tokyo constituency. This broke the election law, which bans candidates from donating goods of a certain value to voters, he said.
The DPJ has demanded that she resign.
Shina said he filed the charge at the instruction of DPJ Secretary-General Yukio Edano.
In declarations to the Diet, Matsushima reported that she had purchased 21,980 fans between 2012 and 2014 at a cost of about ¥1.75 million.
“She delivered uchiwa at many places to many voters,” Shina told reporters. “Matsushima gained unfair advertising,” and it comprised aggressive gifting to voters, he said.
The accusation was initially made by Renho, a DPJ lawmaker who goes by only one name, during an Upper House session last week.
Matsushima insisted that what appeared to be a fan was actually a “leaflet” containing a report on her political activities.
Earlier this month, Matsushima drew fire from the opposition for flouting the Upper House rules on clothing. The minister, known for always wearing red, appeared in the deliberation chamber sporting a red scarf.
The chamber, which bans coats, hats and scarves in session, underwent an embarrassing delay as the lawmakers were forced into a debate with her on whether the item could be construed as a scarf.
“Matsushima lacks the qualities to serve as justice minister and the minister in charge of the state secrets law,” Shina said.