Former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, who remains mired in a bitter feud with leaders of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, could be called to appear before the Diet to give testimony over allegations that she misappropriated her secretaries’ salaries, a senior LDP member suggested Friday.

“If the party’s ethics committee fails to make the facts clear, we should consider questioning (Tanaka) before the Budget Committee as a sworn witness,” former construction minister Masaaki Nakayama said during an LDP meeting.

Upper House member Yoshihiro Nishida said the ethics committee should assume a “resolute attitude” and punish her.

Tanaka, a Lower House member in the LDP, is under fire for allegedly misusing taxpayer money earmarked as salary payments for her public secretaries, who were also employees of Echigo Kotsu Co., a bus company in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, run by Tanaka’s family.

Earlier in the month, Tanaka informally gave her account of the allegations to members of the LDP’s Political Ethics Committee, denying any wrongdoing.

Claiming that her explanation was not enough to remove the suspicions, LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki instructed Tanaka to submit concrete evidence that proves her innocence.

But since Tanaka has refused to do so, the party leaders decided to refer the matter to the ethics committee, which is expected to hold a meeting Monday.

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