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Takao Koyama, a former LDP Upper House lawmaker, admitted Wednesday in his first trial hearing that he received money from the mutual aid provider KSD but denied any of it amounted to bribes for specific favors.

The Tokyo District Court hearing marks the start of trials involving two former Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers accused of abusing their political influence.

The trial of Koyama’s boss, former LDP heavyweight Masakuni Murakami, will get under way next week.

Koyama, 57, admitted receiving 31.6 million yen from KSD between October 1996 and last September but told the court, “I did nothing to comply with any special requests from KSD” in return for the money. The hearing was presided over by Judge Ichitaro Ono.

Koyama, who resigned as a Diet member in January soon after his arrest, was charged with receiving bribes from Tadao Koseki, then president of KSD, for asking questions at a Diet committee and doing other favors for Koseki. KSD provides accident insurance to small enterprises.

Appearing before the court in a navy suit and white shirt, Koyama apologized to voters and voiced remorse for damaging public trust in politics.

He insisted, however, that the money was “a reward for his general activities as a politician.”

In their opening statement, prosecutors held that Koyama received 20 million yen from Koseki in 1996 as a reward for his effort at a Diet committee to extend the maximum intern period of foreign trainees under the state-run Foreigners’ Trainee System. Koseki also headed IMM Japan, the largest recipient body for foreign trainees.

Koyama is also charged with having KSD cover 11.67 million yen in payments for his secretary in 1998 as a reward for pressuring the then Labor Ministry to grant subsidies aiding the establishment of the Institute of Technologists in Saitama Prefecture, Koseki’s brainchild. Koyama was parliamentary vice minister of labor at the time.

The charges against Koyama, who was elected to the Upper House through proportional representation in 1995, were part of a larger bribery scheme involving high-ranking LDP lawmakers.

Former Labor Minister Masakuni Murakami, 68, who resigned from the Upper House in February, was also charged with receiving 72.88 million yen in bribes from KSD officials. He is expected to plead innocent in his first trial hearing Monday.

Koseki, charged with paying 11.67 million yen to Koyama and 22.88 million yen to Murakami, is expected to own up to the charges in court Friday.

Koseki allegedly paid Koyama 20 million yen in bribes and Murakami 50 million yen, but the statute of limitations on these offenses has expired.

Koseki was also suspected of falsely registering KSD members on the LDP’s list of rank-and-file members to make it easier for Koyama to win his Diet seat. Prosecutors dropped this case, however, due to difficulties in presenting evidence.

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