National

Suzuki aide in fund scam sees suspended term upheld

The Tokyo High Court on Thursday upheld a suspended 16-month prison term for a former aide of ex-House of Representatives member Muneo Suzuki convicted of funds misuse and bid-meddling.

Akira Miyano, 56, a former state-paid secretary to Suzuki, was found guilty of conspiring with the lawmaker to hide 100 million yen in political donations in 1998 and of interfering in the bidding in 1999 for a state-funded project on Kunashiri Island, one of the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido that are claimed by Japan.

Presiding Judge Fumio Yasuhiro said: “There is no false recognition of the facts in the original ruling. The defendant’s appeal is dismissed.”

Miyano had maintained his innocence throughout the trial. The July 2003 Tokyo District Court ruling said his acts “betrayed the incorruptibility required of a lawmaker’s secretary.”

Miyano conspired with Suzuki to falsify a political funds report for 1998 by omitting 100 million yen in donations to the lawmaker, then a senior Liberal Democratic Party member, in violation to the Political Funds Control Law.

The judge also said Miyano interfered in the bidding for the Kunashiri project by passing information on the construction of the House of Friendship to a joint venture formed by two firms ahead of the bidding on July 7, 1999, because the two companies made political donations to Suzuki.

The building was part of Japan’s aid project on one of the four Russian-held islands.

The public bidding process ended in failure and the joint venture was awarded a 397 million yen negotiated contract to build the house, dubbed “Muneo House” after the ex-lawmaker, in 1999.

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