NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – The Ginowan Municipal Assembly on Thursday unanimously accepted Mayor Seiko Higa’s resignation following his arrest for allegedly receiving illegal donations in a 2001 election.
An election to choose his successor will probably be held April 27 as part of nationwide local elections, with the campaign expected to focus again on the agreed relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station.
Higa, 64, was arrested Tuesday and tendered his resignation Wednesday through his lawyer, saying he could not remain in his post in the face of the allegations. He has repeatedly denied any connection with the donations.
When Higa was running for re-election in 2001, he supported the planned transfer of the base from Ginowan to a planned military-civilian airport in Nago.
Police suspect Higa violated the Public Offices Election Law and the Political Funds Control Law by conspiring with supporters to receive 22 million yen in donations just before the July 2001 election and falsifying reports on them.
Higa allegedly received the money from about 90 firms, including a combined 3 million yen in June 2001 from three construction firms that won bids for city public works projects, and listed the money in funding disclosure reports as being provided via a local Liberal Democratic Party chapter.
The election law prohibits politicians’ support groups from receiving donations from firms that have won public works contracts.
Senior officials in Higa’s support group and other people have already been indicted in the case.
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