A Tokyo prosecution inquest panel held a vote Wednesday and decided Taku Yamasaki, a senior Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, should be charged for failing to declare campaign donations from a scandal-tainted dentists’ lobby.
Yamasaki is a confidant of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
It is extremely rare for the inquest panel to reverse a decision by prosecutors.
The decision by the Tokyo Dai-ni Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution has no binding power, but prosecutors are expected to reopen the case to determine whether charges are necessary.
Later Wednesday, Yamasaki claimed, “There are no grounds” for the panel’s decision.
A criminal complaint was filed against Yamasaki in November for his alleged failure to report 30 million yen in campaign donations from the Japan Dental Association.
Prosecutors decided not to file charges against him in January due to insufficient evidence.
The panel, comprising appointees from citizens selected by lottery, said Yamasaki’s actions appear to constitute a “serious breach of” the principles of the Political Funds Control Law.
“The truth should come out in court,” the panel said.
The panel said it does not believe the prosecutors had thoroughly investigated the questionable points of the case. One of the points the panel described as “improbable” is Yamasaki’s statement that 50 million yen he and two fellow LDP lawmakers had received from the lobby was first kept in a locker for almost a month.
Similarly, the panel also recommended reopening the cases for the two LDP lawmakers and two others who had criminal complaints filed against them but whose cases were dropped due to insufficient evidence.
The four are posts and telecommunications minister Shozaburo Jimi, former Senior Vice Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Yoshio Kimura, Hirotake Uchida, former executive of the Japan Dental Association, and an unnamed treasurer for Kokumin Seiji Kyokai, the LDP’s political fund management body.
On them, the panel also said the prosecutors’ investigations were insufficient and called for more questioning of their secretaries and other officials involved, given the alleged inconsistencies over their remarks.
Last November, a man from Osaka Prefecture filed a criminal complaint against Yamasaki and the two lawmakers for allegedly receiving a combined 50 million yen from the JDA but failing to report the donations as being on an individual basis, and instead listing the funds as a contribution to the LDP fund management body.
In January, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office decided not to indict Yamasaki and the four others over the case.
Tetsuo Ito, deputy chief prosecutor, claimed the office would like to “properly handle” the case after making the necessary investigations.
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