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Prosecutors on Monday arrested House of Representatives member Joji Yamamoto on suspicion of fraud in connection with the alleged misuse of 20 million yen of his former secretary’s state-paid salary, investigative sources said.

Yamamoto, a 37-year-old lawmaker representing Tokyo’s No. 21 electoral district, has denied the allegation, the sources said.

Yamamoto, a close aide to Naoto Kan, policy chief of the Democratic Party of Japan, tendered his resignation earlier in the day to party Secretary General Tsutomu Hata, who accepted it, DPJ officials said.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office is also questioning Yamamoto on suspicion he misused a further 10 million yen that was supposed to be paid to another secretary, the sources said.

Another one of Yamamoto’s government-paid secretaries, Akinori Imai, 35, has also been arrested in connection with the case, the sources said.

According to the sources, Yamamoto is suspected of keeping a total of 20 million yen in salary that had been paid to a woman registered as his secretary for nearly four years since he was first elected to the Lower House in October 1996.

Yamamoto registered the woman as his government-paid secretary in charge of policy affairs, but she did not do any work relating to policy formulation, they said, without identifying her.

Yamamoto had been paying the secretary only 50,000 yen to 100,000 yen a month through a bank account that was controlled by Yamamoto and Imai, the sources said.

Yamamoto is suspected of using the money to pay his office rent and fund political activities.

The sources said another secretary, who worked for Yamamoto from October 1996 to late August this year, received only 4 million yen a year from Yamamoto’s office instead of 7.5 million yen.

The outstanding balance is more than 10 million yen, they said.

Satsuki Eda, a DPJ Upper House member who met with Yamamoto early Monday afternoon, quoted Yamamoto as saying that “what has been reported by the media is quite different from what I realize.”

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