• Kyodo

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A former Diet member’s secretary has apparently committed suicide after being interrogated by prosecutors in connection with suspected violations of the Political Funds Control Law involving a dentists’ association, it was learned Monday.

The man, whose name was withheld, was found dead Friday in his Tokyo home. The circumstances of his death led investigators to suspect that he killed himself.

The man had previously worked for Yukihiro Yoshida, 42, a former House of Representatives member with the Liberal Democratic Party. Yoshida failed to win re-election from the Aichi No. 3 district in November’s general election.

Prosecutors have determined that the political arm of the Japan Dental Association failed to publicly report 20 million yen in donations made to Yoshida.

The association is a major contributor of funds to the LDP.

On Feb. 2, special investigators from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office searched the office of the dental association and other locations in connection with suspected violations of the Political Funds Control Law.

Prosecutors are believed to have questioned the man, who had previously worked for Yoshida as the lawmaker’s publicly paid secretary, on a voluntary basis.

Investigators have also questioned Yoshida.

The dental association provided a total of 20 million yen in donations to Yoshida on three occasions between May 2001 and August 2002, though it failed to list the donations in its political funds report, according to investigative sources.

The donations were made to Yoshida’s fund management body, as well as to one of the LDP’s Aichi Prefectural chapter organizations.

Documents kept by Yoshida’s body identify the money as donations provided by the dental association, they said.

On the other hand, some 30 million yen handed over by the dental association to Yoshida in August 2001 does not appear in relevant documents at the lawmaker’s funding body, although the donation is mentioned in the association’s report, the sources said.

The Japan Dental Association, which counts 70 percent of all dentists in Japan as members, is not established as a political organization and is thus barred from making political donations.

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