Public prosecutors questioned former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka in late July about allegations that she misused the government salary of her secretary before they decided not to indict her, investigative sources said Saturday.
Tanaka, 59, apparently told prosecutors she had not misappropriated the money and the secretary was actually working for her, denying allegations she used the person’s name simply to pocket the pay, they said.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is expected to officially decide by early September not to indict her after reporting the results of its investigation, including the questioning, to the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office.
The prosecutors investigated the case in response to a criminal complaint filed by the head of a political organization in the city of Nara.
According to the complaint, Tanaka pocketed a total of 5.89 million yen that was the government salary of her secretary in 1997.
It says the secretary was an employee of bus operator Echigo Kotsu Co., which is operated by Tanaka’s family, and received a salary from the firm while on loan to the lawmaker as a secretary.
Investigative sources said last week that the prosecutors decided it would be “extremely difficult” to indict Tanaka on fraud charges since the secretary was actually working and Tanaka was not simply using his name.
The investigation showed the secretary wanted to work on loan to ensure he was still eligible for health and unemployment insurance.
They also showed that the salary from the government was kept in cash by the bus company and settled at the end of the fiscal year, and that the salary paid by the company to the secretary was roughly the same as that paid by the government.
Tanaka’s case is considered different from that of Kiyomi Tsujimoto, 43, a former Lower House member of the Social Democratic Party who was arrested last month for allegedly misusing around 18.8 million yen of the government salary of her secretary, who did no actual work.
Prosecutors indicted Tsujimoto on Friday.