• Kyodo

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A former secretary of former House of Representatives member Katsuhiko Shirakawa pleaded not guilty Monday to asking police officers in Niigata Prefecture to erase another secretary’s traffic violation record.

At the first hearing of his trial at the Niigata District Court, Akio Fujimaki, 39, denied charges of fabricating public electronic records in violation of the Penal Code.

Fujimaki denied asking police officers to conceal his former colleague’s traffic violation record, claiming he only asked them if the violator’s license would be suspended.

According to the indictment, Fujimaki conspired with two police officers, Norio Osawa, 60, and Nozomu Sonehara, 50, in using a computer at the prefectural force’s traffic division to erase four people’s violation records registered on the National Police Agency’s online information system in October 1999.

They also erased a traffic violation record of another former secretary of Shirakawa in July the same year, the indictment said.

Public prosecutors said Fujimaki had told the officers, “I want to erase the violation record” and that they had replied, “We understand.”

According to prosecutors, Osawa was initially reluctant to erase the violation records but Fujimaki repeatedly made the request because he was afraid that his colleague would have problems with his job if his driver’s license was suspended.

Defense lawyers for Fujimaki claim that Osawa misunderstood Fujimaki’s request as a request to have the record erased.

Osawa and Sonehara, on trial separately, admitted the charge at the first hearing of their trial in May.

Shirakawa, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party and a former chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, lost his seat in Sunday’s general election.