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Prosecutors have sought a two-year prison sentence for former Air Self-Defense Force chief Toshio Tamogami for allegedly making illegal payments to his campaign staff in his unsuccessful Tokyo gubernatorial bid in February 2014.

Tamogami repeated his not guilty plea in the trial at the Tokyo District Court on Friday.

“I absolutely did not give approval to a senior staff member to pay money,” he said. “I am innocent.”

Tamogami was indicted on a charge of conspiring with senior campaign staff to pay ¥2 million ($17,350) to his then-campaign manager Nobuteru Shimamoto, and a total of ¥2.8 million to five other staffers between March and May in 2014.

Under election law, paying campaign staff is banned because it amounts to bribery.

In a closing statement, a prosecutor said Tamogami “readily agreed to give financial rewards and even suggested they be increased from ¥1 million to ¥2 million” when the senior campaign staff sought his permission to pay Shimamoto.

The defense counsel, however, claimed that though the senior campaign staff proposed paying Shimamoto, Tamogami did not approve the move. Tamogami did not confirm if the payment was made because he did not think it was an important issue, the defense added.

The court is scheduled to hand down its ruling on May 22.

Shimamoto, 70, is being tried separately in connection with the case.

In 2008, Tamogami was removed as ASDF chief of staff after an essay he wrote justifying Japan’s wartime aggression was made public. He retired soon afterward.

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