OSAKA – A candidate in last month’s House of Councilors election suspected of buying votes has told police here that senior Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Shizuka Kamei gave him the cash to do so, investigative sources said Wednesday.
Kokichi Iramina, 66, a former chairman of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, was arrested Tuesday by Osaka Prefectural Police for allegedly handing 1 million yen in cash to Masao Kiyono, a 54-year-old former Niigata Prefectural Assembly member who was in charge of his Tokyo campaign office, before the July 11 Upper House election.
Police allege that the money was a reward for campaign activities in violation of the Public Offices Election Law. Iramina was running in the proportional representation segment of the ballot.
Iramina, whose election bid was unsuccessful, described the money as part of 2 million yen that he and Kiyono received from the Kamei side in Tokyo in mid-June, the sources said.
An official at Kamei’s office said Kamei is on vacation overseas until Sunday and was not available for comment. The former chairman of the LDP Policy Affairs Research Council leads a faction within the governing party.
According to an investigation, Iramina came to Tokyo in mid-June after being told that the Kamei side would hand him some money “as encouragement” ahead of the election.
Iramina received 2 million yen in the presence of Kiyono, and handed 1 million yen of the amount to him as a reward for his campaigning efforts in the taxi as he headed toward the airport.
Kiyono, who has also been arrested on a vote-buying charge, is believed to have received 1 million yen from Iramina, sent 300,000 yen to Takeshi Higashi, a 51-year-old travel agency manager in Tochigi Prefecture, and used 200,000 yen for other vote-buying efforts.