National

Tokuda's mom, sister indicted for vote-buying

Kyodo

Prosecutors indicted the mother and sister of Lower House lawmaker Takeshi Tokuda on Tuesday for providing ¥60 million in vote-buying funds to campaign workers during the 2012 general election campaign.

Hideko Tokuda, 75, and Michiyo Stern, 46, the mother and elder sister of Takeshi Tokuda, 42, who was elected for a third term from a Kagoshima Prefecture district last December, are charged with offering the funds in violation of the election law.

Prosecutors also indicted four of Tokuda’s campaign workers for receiving the ¥60 million. Investigators decided to defer a decision on whether to charge Torao Tokuda, 75, the lawmaker’s father, who is believed to have been involved in the alleged election violation, due to his poor health.

Tokyo prosecutors said the evidence suggests the elder Tokuda deserves indictment, but his health situation is precarious. The founder and former chief of the Tokushukai hospital group chain is suffering from an incurable motor neuron disease.

Investigators said they will continue questioning Takeshi Tokuda to examine the possibility of charging him. The Lower House member will lose his seat if his family members receive prison terms without suspension. Their trial is scheduled to begin in February.

Meanwhile, prosecutors indicted Katsuyuki Noso, 57, a former aide to the elder Tokuda, for embezzling ¥30 million from a hospital group firm.

Following his dismissal last February from Tokushukai, Noso has provided investigators with information on the hospital group’s alleged election violations.

The prosecutors are expected to launch an investigation soon into now ex-Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose, who received ¥50 million from Tokushukai in November last year, based on a criminal complaint filed against the governor by a citizens’ group.

The four campaigners indicted Tuesday are Ichiro Ishikawa, 59, Giichiro Oketani, 69, Masahiko Okuda, 69, and Yasunari Tomita, 42.

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