Former Saitama Gov. Yoshihiko Tsuchiya escaped indictment Thursday over his suspected role in the misuse of political funds by his eldest daughter, prosecution officials said.
Tsuchiya resigned last month amid accusations that his daughter, Momoko Ichikawa, had misappropriated 113 million yen in political funds donated to the governor between 1998 and 2002.
On the same day it decided against indicting the former governor, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office filed charges against his daughter.
According to sources, Tokyo prosecutors have questioned Tsuchiya, 77, over his daughter’s case, but have decided to withhold filing any criminal charges against him.
Tsuchiya told the prosecutors that although he may have failed to adequately supervise his political fund management group, he believed the parties he left in charge of the body were handling their task properly, the sources said.
The Tokyo prosecutors earlier searched Tsuchiya’s office, official residence and private home and recently interviewed him to find out whether he knew that Ichikawa, 53, had skimmed political donations and filed fraudulent political fund reports.
But they found no evidence that the ex-governor was violating the Political Funds Control Law.
The former governor has repeatedly denied involvement in the misappropriation, claiming he had left the management of his political funds entirely in the hands of his daughter. He resigned from the gubernatorial post July 18.
Ichikawa allegedly conspired with Harumi Ozaki, an administrator of Tsuchiya’s fund management office, to embezzle 113 million yen over five years and used the money to cover losses from stock transactions and her own businesses.
Ichikawa is believed to have directed Ozaki to make false political fund statements during the period, according to investigators. Ozaki was also arrested.
Tsuchiya was elected Saitama governor in 1992 and was serving his third four-year term. Previously, he served five terms in the House of Councilors, rising up the ranks to become Upper House president, a post he held for three years starting in 1988.
His second daughter, Shinako Tsuchiya, 51, is a House of Representatives member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. She is serving her second term and has been appointed as a parliamentary foreign secretary.