National / Crime & Legal

Former Obuchi aide calls funds discrepancies 'clerical errors'


A former aide to Yuko Obuchi, who resigned as industry minister last week, has told prosecutors that discrepancies in political funds reports linked to the one-time rising star in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet were caused by “clerical errors,” sources with knowledge of the matter said Friday.

Kenichiro Orita, who claims to have prepared some of the funds reports in question, told prosecutors during voluntary questioning that the suspect bookkeeping “was not done on purpose,” the sources said.

On Friday, the special investigative arm of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office raided City Hall in Nakanojo, Gunma Prefecture, where Orita served as mayor until Oct. 24,.

Prosecutors also searched the office of Obuchi’s support group Thursday, prompting lawmakers in her Liberal Democratic Party, as well as the opposition, to call on her to resign from the Lower House.

Funds reports from the support group and three other political bodies between 2008 and 2011 show that expenses for trips to the theater and to baseball games exceeded the amount booked as received from participants by about ¥55 million. No revenue or expenses were booked for another theater outing in 2012.

The man listed as having drawn up the funds reports for one of the groups said he had been asked for permission to use his name in the report and did not do the actual accounting.

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