National / Crime & Legal

Offices of Hiroshima politicians linked to ex-justice minister raided

Jiji

Public prosecutors searched offices and other places related to members of the assembly of Hiroshima Prefecture on Thursday over an election campaign scandal involving former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai, it has been learned.

The assembly members included one whose home was also searched. This member supported the campaign of Kawai’s wife, Anri, in the July 2019 House of Councilors election, helping her recruit announcers who spoke from vehicles to introduce the candidate, informed sources said.

Katsuyuki Kawai, 57, is suspected to have given cash to local politicians with the intention of gaining their support for gathering votes for his wife, according to the sources.

The assembly member whose home was searched, speaking to the press, denied receiving cash from Kawai, a House of Representatives lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who became justice minister later in 2019.

Endorsed by the LDP, Anri Kawai, 46, won one of the two Upper House seats contested in the Hiroshima constituency in the election.

The prosecutors believe that competition between her and another LDP candidate in the constituency may have led to the cash-for-vote scandal.

Katsuyuki Kawai is also believed to have been giving instructions to staff of his wife’s campaign through a messaging app.

The prosecutors have questioned local government leaders and prefectural assembly members in Hiroshima who are believed to have been approached by the couple or the campaign staff.

Over Anri Kawai’s campaign, two people, secretaries to her and her husband, were indicted late last month for allegedly paying more than legally allowed to campaign announcers.

The prosecutors also filed for a 100-day trial of the accused in a move to nullify her election.

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