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OSAKA — Vote-rigging charges surrounding the election of Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Kenji Koso, a former senior official of the posts ministry, continued to widen Thursday with the arrest of a former head of the general affairs bureau of the Kinki Postal Administration Office.

Isao Fujinaga, 60, a resident of Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, currently heads the secretariat of a body of postmasters in charge of privately run post offices in the Kinki region.

He is suspected of using his position to solicit votes for Koso, who was elected in the July 29 House of Councilors election from the LDP’s proportional representation list.

Investigative sources said Fujinaga has confessed to the allegations, which surround an entreaty he made to some 100 private post office heads to support Koso. This call is said to have been made at a gathering held in Osaka in early March.

Fujinaga’s arrest comes in the wake of Wednesday night’s arrest by Kyoto police of Tsunehiko Nishida, head of the Kinki Postal Administration Office’s general affairs department, on similar allegations.

Police now suspect the organized involvement of the regional postal administration office.

On Thursday morning, police searched Nishida’s house as well as the postal administration office for evidence.

Koso, who had earlier headed the Kinki Postal Administration Office, garnered 480,000 votes in his first run for public office after resigning from the ministry in July 1999.

Police alleged that Nishida asked more than 10 senior officials from post offices under the Kinki Postal Administration Office’s jurisdiction to organize votes for Koso.

Nishida was general affairs section chief when he allegedly made the vote canvassing call at a gathering of postal officials at the Osaka Central Post Office in early June.

Nishida refused to answer questions following his arrest, telling investigators that he will talk later, police said.

The latest arrests bring to 12 the number of people arrested in connection with Koso’s campaign, including an assistant section chief in the Kinki Postal Administration Office.

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