HIROSHIMA – The team that conducted lawmaker Anri Kawai’s campaign for last year’s House of Councilors election is suspected of having made illegal payments to more staff members than was previously believed, sources said Wednesday.
The revelation comes after Hiroshi Tatemichi, 54, a government-paid secretary to Kawai, who was elected from Hiroshima Prefecture, and two others were arrested for allegedly paying some of her campaign staff more than the legal limit.
The sources said the campaign team for the Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, who is the wife of former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai, is also believed to have made payments to staff members to whom remuneration was not permitted. The alleged act may be considered bribery under the public offices election law.
A male corporate employee received payments for activities involving calling on companies and local politicians to support Anri Kawai from early June to late July last year, which included the Upper House election campaign period. He is believed to have taken on the task at the request of her husband.
From the campaign team, the staff member later received a total of some ¥860,000 in three remittances wired to his bank account from an LDP Hiroshima Prefecture electoral district branch office led by Kawai, in addition to ¥100,000 in cash in June.
The man has been questioned by the Hiroshima District Public Prosecutor’s Office since the end of last year, and his home was searched in February this year.
“I received the payments knowing they were illegal,” he is said to have told investigators.
Prosecutors are seeking to investigate the matter in parallel with the ongoing investigation that led to the arrests of Tatemichi and others.
It also emerged that another man had been paid several hundred thousand yen from the campaign team after visiting religious and other entities during the campaign period to seek support for Kawai. The man did not think the payments were illegal, sources said.
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