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Kiyomi Tsujimoto, an outspoken former opposition lawmaker indicted on charges of defrauding the state, indicated Saturday that she will not stand in the House of Representatives election expected to be called next month.

Tsujimoto, 43, sent a message to a meeting of the Social Democratic Party’s Osaka chapter that reads, “I would like to fulfill all my responsibilities concerning the (fraud) case by way of seeking judgment in court. I will not be running in the general election.”

The chapter then formally decided not to field her as a candidate. Tsujimoto represented Osaka’s No. 10 district for the SDP. It also accepted her resignation as a representative of the chapter, but she remains an SDP member.

Tsujimoto was indicted in August on charges of defrauding the state out of nearly 19 million yen in funds earmarked for her secretaries between November 1996 and December 1998.

According to the indictment, she paid two policy secretaries only 2.5 million yen of the 18.8 million yen the government gave her as salaries for them. The remainder was allegedly spent on running her office.

The scandal was the fourth case in which a lawmaker has faced criminal charges for misappropriating the salaries of secretaries.

Tsujimoto left the Lower House after the scandal surfaced in March 2002.

In July, police arrested her for fraud but the Tokyo District Court approved her release on bail. The court will hold the first hearing in the case in November.

Former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, who also resigned from the Lower House in August 2002 over allegations that she had misused the state-paid salaries of her secretaries, is expected to run in the next general election as an independent.

In Tanaka’s case, prosecutors announced that she had not misappropriated the money and decided not to pursue a criminal case against her.

New Suzuki party plan

KUSHIRO, Hokkaido (Kyodo) Supporters of scandal-tainted lawmaker Muneo Suzuki are planning to establish a new party for him to run in the next House of Representatives general election, expected to be held in November.

A support group led by singer Chiharu Matsuyama apparently aims to have Suzuki — who has been indicted for bribery — run for the Hokkaido block in the proportional representation section instead of in the seventh Hokkaido single-seat district, where there is an incumbent candidate of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, political pundits said.

At a gathering earlier this month in Kushiro, Matusyama urged nearly 500 of Suzuki’s female supporters to create a new party.

“Japanese politics is dominated by the LDP, the Democratic Party of Japan and ‘nisei-gin’ (second generation politicians). It’s about time we created a new party among the people in rural areas,” he said.

Suzuki, a former deputy chief Cabinet secretary, was elected in the previous 2000 poll to the Lower House in the Hokkaido proportional representation constituency as an LDP candidate.

But Suzuki remained noncommittal. , saying, “Please ask Mr. Matsuyama what he is thinking,” when asked about the plan.

Suzuki was arrested and indicted for bribery and was forced to leave the LDP in March last year. He is on bail and has said he hopes to run in the next general election.

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