The Liberal Democratic Party said Friday it will launch an investigation Monday into allegations that LDP member Makiko Tanaka pocketed part of her secretaries’ salaries paid from government coffers.

Senior members of the LDP’s Political Ethics Hearing Committee, headed by House of Representatives member Yoshiro Hayashi, may summon former Foreign Minister Tanaka to an informal hearing Monday so she can respond to the allegations, LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki told a news conference.

If necessary, the committee will then hold a formal meeting to discuss the issue, Yamasaki added.

It was not immediately clear whether Tanaka would agree to be questioned by the committee, even on an informal basis.

Two weekly newsmagazines reported earlier this week that Tanaka’s office had kept a large portion of her secretaries’ government-paid salaries in the 1990s, while having a firm run by her family pay their wages instead.

If the allegations are true, Tanaka may have violated the law on political funds by failing to report this flow of money to her office.

On Friday, Tanaka categorically denied the allegations, telling reporters that she employed no secretaries in name only, had not embezzled funds and had never ordered her family’s firm to pay aides’ salaries.

Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a former policy chief of the Social Democratic Party, resigned from the Diet on March 26 after admitting she had diverted a large potion of the state-paid salary of her policy secretary to cover expenses for her other staff.

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