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Ex-ASDF chief denies misusing political funds

Kyodo

Toshio Tamogami, a former Air Self-Defense Force chief whose office was searched on suspicion of using political funds for private purposes, told reporters Tuesday the accusation was false.

“I have not used political funds for private purposes. I hope they will investigate thoroughly,” he said.

Prosecutors searched the office Monday on suspicion that Tamogami, who unsuccessfully ran for Tokyo governor in 2014, misused political funds together with his former account manager.

According to a political funding report, Tamogami’s fundraising group took in about ¥132 million in 2014 and declared about ¥50.54 million as unaccounted expenses.

Tamogami, 67, filed a criminal complaint last March against the former manager, who was in charge of accounting for the fundraising group, for allegedly embezzling political funds collected through donations and other means.

But an official of Tamogami’s office said his involvement is also suspected. In December, the president of a television production company who supported Tamogami in the Tokyo gubernatorial election and others filed a complaint against three people, including Tamogami.

The TV executive suggested that some of the unaccounted funds may have been used to pay campaign staff.

“Mr. Tamogami told me to pay ¥300,000 (each) to certain persons to thank them for helping us in the election, but I refused to do so,” the president said.

Tamogami was removed as ASDF chief of staff in October 2008 after an essay he wrote justifying Japan’s wartime aggression was made public and upset the then defense minister, who said Tamogami’s view ran counter to that of the government.

Tamogami retired from the ASDF soon after.

In 2014, besides running for Tokyo governor, he also launched an unsuccessful bid for the Lower House.