A former vice mayor of Higashiura in Aichi Prefecture has been arrested for allegedly padding the population data of the town, which is aiming to upgrade its administrative status to that of a city, prefectural police said.

Hideo Ogisu, 63, denied violating the statistics law after his arrest Friday. He was quoted as saying that he never issued instructions for any illegal acts to be carried out. However, several municipal employees claim to have received orders from Ogisu to inflate the town's population data, according to the police.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry asked municipal authorities in Higashiura to investigate the matter after receiving an anonymous tip about possible padding of the December 2010 census.

Preliminary census data in February 2011 showed the town had a population of 50,080, but the number was revised downward to 49,800 eight months later. The threshold for upgrading to city status is 50,000 residents.