• Kyodo


A former member of the House of Representatives from the Democratic Party of Japan was arrested Sunday on suspicion of possessing stimulants at his home in Aichi Prefecture, police said.

Kenji Kobayashi, 41, lost his seat in the general election for the Lower House a week ago. He ran on the ticket of the biggest opposition party in the Aichi No. 7 district.

The police arrested Kobayashi’s private secretary, Koshi Ando, 41, and a former aide, Masaharu Saeki, 40, also for allegedly possessing stimulants in violation of the Stimulants Control Law.

Some 30 locations, including Kobayashi’s campaign office in the city of Seto, Aichi Prefecture, were searched Sunday.

The police said they launched a probe targeting the former lawmaker based on a tip received in March and found drugs on a table in Kobayashi’s home in the city of Nisshin at around 5:20 a.m.

Ando was with Kobayashi at the lawmaker’s home, where each man was found with about 0.1 gram of stimulants, while Saeki was found in possession of roughly 0.6 gram of stimulants at a Nagoya hotel some three hours later.

The suspects have admitted to the allegations, saying the stimulants were for their personal use.

Kobayashi, who worked at firms including foreign exchange broker Ueda Harlow Ltd., was first elected to the Diet in 2000 and was re-elected in 2003. He was named as the DPJ’s vice Diet affairs chief last January.

The arrests come a week after the DPJ’s embarrassing loss in the election, where its strength in the more powerful Lower House was whittled down to 113 from 177 going into the campaign, and a day after the party elected Seiji Maehara as its new leader.

Later Sunday, Maehara apologized for Kobayashi’s arrest and said he would be expelled from the party. Such actions deepen public distrust of politics, he said.

“It’s not a matter of whether he was a lawmaker or not — as a human being, this is something that should not happen,” he said in Tokyo.

Maehara added that in addition to expulsion, Kobayashi would also be stricken from the DPJ’s proportional representation roster for the Tokai block.

In the evening, Lower House member Motohisa Furukawa said he would step down as head of the DPJ’s Aichi Prefecture chapter to take responsibility for the scandal.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.