A government-paid secretary to a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker was suspended from work Wednesday after it was learned he received some 3.4 million yen from a Japanese-language school operator convicted of helping Chinese citizens immigrate illegally.

Mitsuru Tanaka, 55, policy secretary to House of Representatives member Yoshitsugu Harada, told Kyodo News on Tuesday he made inquiries to immigration authorities about immigration screening of some Chinese people at the request of the school’s operator, Katsunori Yoshida, 57.

But Tanaka said the money was not given in return for making the inquiries, which he had been doing for more than a decade. He said 2.2 million yen of the total was a loan that he has already returned to Yoshida.

According to Harada’s office, the lawmaker personally questioned Tanaka about the money Tuesday and decided the aide should not come to work “for the time being.”

The office will continue to probe the matter and decide on a final form of punishment when it is concluded, staff members said.

Sources said Tanaka received the money on several occasions between late 1999 and fall 2003, shortly before police arrested Yoshida on suspicion of immigration law violations.

At the time the payments began, Tanaka was a government-paid secretary to Lower House LDP lawmaker Yamato Inaba.

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