YOKOHAMA – Police arrested a former House of Representatives lawmaker Wednesday on suspicion of giving shopping coupons worth 1.8 million yen to people who helped his campaign, although he lost his seat in June’s general election.
Tadayoshi Iijima, 55, allegedly gave the coupons in mid-July to 23 members of city and town assemblies in his Kanagawa Prefecture constituency as a reward for their participation in his election campaign.
The former Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker is suspected of violating the Public Office Election Law, which bans candidates from giving money or goods to those who voted for them or took part in their campaigns.
According to the police, Iijima gave coupons each worth 100,000 yen to five Kamakura city assembly members and eight Zushi city assembly members and coupons worth 50,000 yen each to 10 Hayama town assembly members.
Iijima previously told Kyodo News that he had given the shopping coupons to the assembly members to compensate them for costs they incurred in the election campaign and to thank them for supporting him.
Investigators said the coupons were prepared by his private secretary, adding that Iijima personally visited supporters to thank them for their assistance.
Police began an investigation into the incident in late August, discovering after questioning the recipients that the former Diet lawmaker had instructed them to say that they had immediately returned the gift certificates, when in fact they had not.
Iijima, a former member of the Yokohama city assembly, was elected as a Lower House lawmaker on the LDP ticket in October 1996. He ran in the June election from the Kanagawa No. 4 single-seat constituency.
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