Former Air Self-Defense Force chief and failed Tokyo governor candidate Toshio Tamogami was arrested Thursday for allegedly violating election laws by paying campaign staff following the 2014 election race.
Tamogami, 67, who ran as an independent, was arrested by prosecutors together with Nobuteru Shimamoto, 69, who served as his election secretariat chief.
The two are alleged to have paid a total of ¥2.8 million as remuneration to five campaign staffers after the election. Shimamoto is also suspected of receiving ¥2 million from Tamogami.
Tamogami has denied being actively involved in such payments, which are illegal in Japanese election campaigns as they are considered bribes. He told reporters earlier this month that he had initially “approved” the payments but later told Shimamoto that he disagreed with the idea.
“Today, it appears I, Tamogami, will be arrested. I feel that it’s unfair but I can’t win against the state’s authority,” Tamogami tweeted on Thursday morning. “I won’t be able to tweet for a while.”
Sources close to the matter said Tamogami had talks about the payments with Shimamoto in March 2014, a month after the poll, in which Shimamoto provided a list of staff members and said, “I want to hand out (to them) ¥20 million.”
When a male election staffer later met Tamogami and thanked him for the payment, Tamogami said the sum had been “increased” and added, “I have treated you well,” according to the sources.
The man received ¥2 million, although the list showed that the he was supposed to receive ¥1 million, the sources said.
Tamogami was removed as ASDF chief of staff in October 2008 after an essay he wrote justifying Japan’s wartime aggression was made public and upset then-Prime Minister Taro Aso, who said Tamogami’s view ran counter to that of the government. Tamogami retired from the ASDF soon after.
Historians also lambasted his essay, which justified Japan’s aggression in China and colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, saying it was full of fundamental factual errors.
After his failed tilt in the February 2014 Tokyo gubernatorial election, Tamogami was then backed by the now-defunct Party for Future Generations in a bid for a House of Representatives seat in December that year. He also lost that election.
It is understood the payment allegations relate only to the Tokyo election.
In the Tokyo race, Tamogami, who was a key member of the Party for Future Generations, finished fourth with 610,000 votes on the back of support from right-leaning voters.
Though it failed to get him elected, experts regarded this as an alarming sign of growing nationalism among Japanese voters.
Born in 1948 in Fukuoka Prefecture, Tamogami joined the ASDF in 1967 and was appointed as ASDF chief of staff in 2007.
In his career-ending essay, Tamogami claimed Japan was never an “aggressor nation” and it was “a victim” that was “drawn into the Sino-Japanese War” with repeated terrorist acts and provocations by Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government.
Ikuhiko Hata, a professor emeritus at Nihon University in Tokyo and a noted expert on modern Japanese history, said previously that the essay “is of extremely low quality” and “even a high school student” can easily point out its mistakes.
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