National / Politics

Lawmaker Takaya Muto denies involvement in stock fraud, says he won’t resign

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

Embattled Lower House lawmaker Takaya Muto on Wednesday dismissed an allegation that he was involved in investment fraud and said he had no plans to resign from the Diet.

A recent issue of weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported that Muto had asked an acquaintance to raise money to buy unlisted stocks, which would be purchased through a quota allocated to Diet members.

The article said Muto collected about ¥41 million from 23 investors to purchase the stocks. But it said the stocks were never bought, one of Muto’s secretaries misappropriated about ¥8 million out of the total, and some ¥7 million had yet to be returned to six investors.

During a news conference at a Diet members’ building, Muto admitted suggesting to an acquaintance to purchase the shares, but denied instructing him to collect money for that purpose.

Muto said he proposed that the acquaintance buy the stocks so he can generate investment returns to repay the money Muto had lent him earlier to help his business.

Muto said the acquaintance later collected the money at his own discretion to purchase the stocks.

The 36-year-old lawmaker also brushed off the claim there were shares specially set aside for Diet members, saying he didn’t provide such an explanation to the acquaintance.

Muto denied he was involved in raising money and said he wasn’t aware of the names of the investors or how many there were.

“I received a report that all the money was returned to the investors,” he told reporters.

The lawmaker, who was elected in Shiga Prefecture’s No. 4 constituency as a Liberal Democratic Party candidate, said he filed a civil lawsuit in February against the acquaintance and his business partner. He also said he was preparing to file a criminal complaint against them.

“I have nothing to hide and I want to make all the facts clear,” Muto said.

Asked whether he intends to resign, Muto said he had no plans to do so.

“Legal experts and relevant authorities I consulted with suggested there were no possibilities of any legal issues leading to my resignation,” he said. “At the moment, I’m not thinking of resigning from the Diet.”

Muto drew public attention for bashing student protesters staging street demonstrations against the government-sponsored security bills on July 30, accusing them on Twitter of “being self-centered and extremely egoistic” because they “do not want to go to a war.”

Muto quit the LDP on Aug. 19, the day Shukan Bunshun reported on his alleged involvement in investment fraud. He said he regretted causing great trouble to the party due to his private affairs.