The Tokyo District Court on Monday sentenced Morishige Goto, a former head of the All-Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers Union (Jichiro), to a suspended 18-month prison term for tax evasion related to the union’s income.

The court also sentenced Tetsuo Kaihatsu, another former Jichiro official, to a suspended one-year term and fined the union 55 million yen.

Prosecutors had demanded an 18-month prison term for Goto, one year for Kaihatsu and a fine of 80 million yen for the union. Goto’s term was suspended for four years and Kaihatsu’s for three.

Goto, 67, was the union’s chairman between 1992 and 1997. He was found guilty of organizing the evasion of some 125 million yen in corporate income tax in fiscal 1996 by concealing 335 million yen in revenues.

Kaihatsu, 61, concealed around 267 million yen of Jichiro’s income in fiscal 1997 to dodge 99 million yen in taxes, the court ruled.

During the trial, Goto owned up to the offense, saying, “My responsibility as the union’s leader is quite grave, but I did not use the money for personal purposes.”

Jichiro is a nationwide union of 1 million workers at local governments and affiliated bodies. It is the largest union in Japan.

Though the union is not required to pay corporate income tax, it is required by law to pay tax on the profits of its enterprises, including mutual aid insurance.

Goto launched his career as a union activist in the town of Oketo, Hokkaido, and served as Jichiro leader between 1992 and 1997.

He contributed to the establishment of the administration led by then Social Democratic Party leader Tomiichi Murayama, and the launch of the Democratic Party of Japan.

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