• Kyodo

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The chairman of a construction industry organization in Saitama Prefecture may have been involved in the political funds scandal involving the daughter of the city’s former governor.

According to sources, the chairman arranged for more than 20 million yen a year in donations to former Saitama Gov. Yoshihiko Tsuchiya over several years on request from Tsuchiya’s eldest daughter, Momoko Ichikawa.

The 71-year-old business leader, whose name is being withheld, asked member companies of the Saitama Prefectural Federation of Construction Contractors to provide Tsuchiya with political funds using the names of individuals.

The firms were asked to give individual donations of less than 50,000 yen at a time. Under the Political Funds Control Law, politicians are not required to report donations of less than 50,000 yen by individuals.

The requests were handed down through the industry group’s branches, which were each given a specific amount of funds to collect, starting around 2000, the sources said.

They said the chairman admits to having arranged the donations. They quoted him as saying, “I got the request directly from Ms. Ichikawa, who visited me at my office, but I never meant to issue orders for donations. I thought I was simply making requests.”

Ichikawa, 53, was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of misappropriating 113 million yen in political funds donated to Tsuchiya between 1998 and 2002.

Tsuchiya stepped down as Saitama governor last Friday.

The industry organization has 482 construction firms and some 30 small business groups as members.