National

Another round of warrants served in dental group scandal

Tokyo prosecutors served a fresh arrest warrant Wednesday on a former Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker suspected of buying votes with money from a scandal-tainted dentists’ association before November’s House of Representatives election.

Yukihiro Yoshida, 43, who lost his Diet seat in the election, and Hirotake Uchida, 63, former director of the Japan Dental Association, were served fresh arrest warrants on charges of violating the Public Offices Election Law.

The prosecutors also arrested Yasushi Miwa, 60, head of the Aichi prefectural dentist association, on the same charges, and arrested three Aichi Prefectural Assembly members and two Nagoya Municipal Assembly members on suspicion of accepting the money.

The prosecutors said the five local assembly members each received checks for 2 million yen from Miwa around September. Miwa also served as the de facto head of Yoshida’s campaign and helped round up votes for the candidate.

Investigators believe the payments came out of 12 million yen deposited in Miwa’s bank account by Uchida at Miwa’s request.

Miwa later took back the checks, fearing they could be traced when the assembly members cashed them. Some of the assembly members were then paid in cash, according to sources close to the investigation.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office arrested Yoshida, a dentist, and served arrest warrants in the case of Uchida and Sadao Usuda, 73, a former chairman of the association, on July 15 for allegedly embezzling 30 million yen from the Japan Dental Association.

The latest allegations surfaced during a full-scale investigation by prosecutors into the embezzlement case aimed at clarifying the flow of political contributions by the dental association’s political arm.

Yoshida and the two dental association executives embezzled the money in 2002 by passing it off as a donation to Yoshida from the dentist association’s political group, investigative sources said earlier.

The sources said Usuda directed Uchida to withdraw 50 million yen from the political group’s account as a political donation to Yoshida.

Coronavirus banner