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New Okinawa minister denies 2010 calendar violated election law

Kyodo

Aiko Shimajiri, appointed minister in charge of Okinawa issues in the Oct. 7 Cabinet reshuffle, is denying that distributing a calendar bearing her name and head shot was a violation of the election law.

About a year ago, Midori Matsushima was forced to step down as justice minister for distributing paper fans to her constituents, which allegedly constituted an act of donation that is banned under the Public Offices Election Law.

If Shimajiri’s calendar was distributed to many and unspecified voters, it could also infringe the ban on donations. She represents Okinawa Prefecture in the Upper House.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Monday defended Shimajiri, telling reporters that her case doesn’t represent a violation of the election law because she gave the calender directly to members of her support group.

He said Shimajiri will not have to leave the Cabinet. “It’s impossible,” he said.

Shimajiri distributed the calendar to constituents between December 2009 and January 2010, with her Dec. 28, 2009, blog reading “Please contact my support group’s office if anybody wants it.” The post was deleted Saturday.

Shimajiri, speaking to reporters Sunday in Naha, denied giving the calendar to a large number of unspecified people, saying she “handed it out to members of my support group,” while apologizing for the blog and saying that its wording “could be misunderstood.”