• Kyodo

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A construction company here paid half the salaries of two secretaries of Mitsuhiro Uesugi, a House of Councilors lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the lawmaker’s office and the firm admitted Friday.

The firm, Shidagumi, paid a total of 9.23 million yen to Uesugi over a period of about four years to December 2001, the office and company said, confirming a report in the daily Asahi Shimbun.

The two men, employees of the company, were dispatched to Uesugi’s Tokyo office in the name of “job training,” the politician’s office and the company said.

The disbursement may constitute donations to Uesugi, who did not report the money in his annual political funds reports. The Political Funds Control Law requires politicians to declare donations of more than 50,000 yen annually from any one source.

One of the secretaries worked at the lawmaker’s office between April 1998 and March 2000, while the other was employed between April 2000 and December 2001. The latter later left the company and joined Uesugi’s staff, they said.

Uesugi’s office said that no wrongdoing was involved and that it does not believe the matter contravenes the terms of the political donations law.

“(The men) were also doing work for Shidagumi, and we just paid the amount equivalent to the job they did for us,” an aide said, adding that the then Home Affairs Ministry confirmed that no laws were being broken if the people were trainees.

Uesugi is serving a third six-year term in the Upper House. He was first elected in 1986 and served as home affairs minister as well as deputy chief Cabinet secretary.

He has declared his intention to run in the Miyazaki gubernatorial election this summer.

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