National / Politics

Town mayor admits to getting cash from scandal-hit ex-minister Kawai

KYODO

A town mayor admitted Thursday to having received cash last year from veteran lawmaker Katsuyuki Kawai, who is involved in money misuse allegations related to his wife’s Upper House campaign.

Akiota Mayor Shinji Kosaka became the first municipal leader in Hiroshima Prefecture, from which Kawai and his wife Anri are both elected officials, to admit to having received cash from Katsuyuki, who took the post of justice minister in a Cabinet reshuffle after the July 2019 Upper House election.

Kosaka said he received an envelope containing ¥200,000 ($1,900) in cash from Kawai at Kosaka’s home around late April 2019 after Anri was approved as a House of Councilors candidate on the ticket of the Liberal Democratic Party, which is led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In the prefecture, Mihara Mayor Yoshinori Temma and Otake Mayor Yoshiro Iriyama talked with prosecutors voluntarily, but both denied having received cash in connection with the election scandal.

Kosaka declined to comment on whether he has been questioned by the prosecutors.

Akiota is located in the constituency from which Kawai was elected for the House of Representatives, or the Lower House.

On the election scandal, a state-paid secretary of Anri and another of Katsuyuki were indicted last week over unlawful rewards paid to campaign staff during the Upper House election.

According to Kosaka, Kawai left the envelope and asked for help, so both Anri and another LDP candidate could take the two-seat prefectural district in the Upper House election.

Kosaka said he had initially declined to accept the envelope because he thought it contained cash or vouchers, but since Kawai persisted, he ended up accepting it.

Kosaka said he confirmed the envelope contained cash around March 28. On March 30, the mayor registered the money as a donation to his political organization.

Anri and an opposition candidate ended up winning the seats in the Upper House election in the prefecture, and Katsuyuki resigned as justice minister in October after the money misuse scandal surfaced.

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