• Kyodo


A former Kobe city assemblyman who initially came under the spotlight for an affair with a singer-turned-lawmaker was found guilty Monday of defrauding his local assembly of public funds slated for use in political activities.

The Kobe District Court sentenced Ken Hashimoto, 38, to 18 months in prison, suspended for four years, for fraudulently obtaining ¥6.9 million by submitting forged documents to the city assembly between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2014.

In handing down the ruling, presiding Judge Hiroshi Kawakami said Hashimoto wanted to obtain money which he could use freely and “abused the system because of personal greed.”

“I cannot help but be appalled at his low level of awareness about compliance,” Kawakami said. But the judge also noted the suspended sentence was appropriate as Hashimoto has resigned from his post in the Kobe assembly and has shown repentance.

The former member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party faction in the assembly stepped down in August last year after the Shukan Shincho weekly magazine reported the fraud scandal.

The publication initially reported the affair between Hashimoto, who was married at the time, and Eriko Imai, an LDP House of Councilors member who was hugely popular in the 1990s as a member of the female vocal-dance group SPEED. Following the report, Hashimoto came under increased scrutiny, leading to the discovery of his defrauding of the assembly.

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