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Prosecutors are expected to decide against indicting former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, who stands accused of misusing the salary of her state-funded secretary, investigative sources said Tuesday.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office will make a final decision on the issue in the fall.

Tanaka, 59, resigned from the House of Representatives in August amid allegations that she misused her secretary’s state-paid salary.

According to the criminal complaint leveled against her, Tanaka misappropriated 5.89 million yen in salary payments meant for her secretary in 1997.

Prosecutors have decided, however, that it would be extremely difficult to indict Tanaka on fraud charges, since the secretary in question was actually working and Tanaka was not simply borrowing her name, the sources said.

Tanaka’s case differs from that of 43-year-old Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a former Lower House member of the Social Democratic Party who was arrested last month for allegedly misusing around 18.8 million yen in state-funded salary payments meant for her secretary.

In Tsujimoto’s case, the secretary in question did no actual work.

SDP Secretary General Mizuho Fukushima said she believes investigators are “inclined to become tougher on the opposition than on the ruling parties.”

Speaking to reporters, Fukushima admitted that the two cases may indeed be different — but cited the fact that the secretary was leased to Tanaka as a possible flaw in her case.

Reports that Tanaka misappropriated her secretaries’ salary payments surfaced in April 2002. Although Tanaka denied the allegations at the Lower House Deliberative Council on Political Ethics, she resigned, stating that the suspicions persisted.

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