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A former secretary to a Diet member was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison for bribing the governor of Tokushima and two mayors in Ibaraki Prefecture.

The Tokyo District Court ruled that Mitsuro Ozaki, while a senior executive of Tokyo-based business consultant firm Gyosai Toshi Kaihatsu Kenkyusho (Gyosaiken), handed over some 13 million yen in connection with securing public works projects.

Presiding Judge Yoshinobu Iida said Ozaki, 57, abused the personal networks he had fostered while he was an aide to Lower House member Michihiko Kano.

“(Ozaki) acted like the pivot of a fan, serving as a go-between for leaders of local governments and construction firms, and threw the administration of municipalities into turmoil,” Iida said from the bench.

Ozaki entered a guilty plea but was seeking a suspended sentence.

The judge said the sentence could not be suspended because Ozaki bore a grave responsibility, as he continually handed out bribes with the sole purpose of expanding the consulting firm’s business.

Ozaki immediately filed an appeal.

Of 15 people indicted in connection with the wide-reaching scandal, 13 have been found guilty. Ozaki, however, is the first not to receive a suspended sentence.

According to the court, Ozaki gave 3 million yen to then Tokushima Gov. Toshio Endo in 2000 as a reward for helping to secure a subcontracting job for a local construction firm in a library project. In 2001, he promised 10 million yen in connection with another works project. Endo has been convicted of receiving the bribes.

In 1999, Ozaki gave 2 million yen to then Ishioka Mayor Yoshishiro Kimura and some 8.3 million yen then Shimotsuma Mayor Hiroshi Yamanaka as a reward for leaking information related to bidding for public works projects in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Kimura was found guilty and has until Friday to appeal. Yamanaka’s trial is still under way.

The Tokyo District Court ruled Tuesday that the consultancy firm evaded some 3.2 million yen in corporate taxes by failing to declare kickbacks and issued an 8 million yen fine.

Judge Iida, without naming Kano, also ruled that Gyosaiken at one time paid the wages of a Diet member’s secretaries.

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