National / Crime & Legal

Home of ex-mayor searched over Japan lawmaker's election scandal

Kyodo

A former city mayor in Hiroshima Prefecture confirmed Sunday that his home was searched by prosecutors in connection with money misuse allegations related to a ruling party lawmaker’s election campaign last year.

Kazuyoshi Hamada, who was mayor of Akitakata until April 17, said he voluntarily submitted to questioning by Hiroshima prosecutors Saturday with the search stemming from allegations involving former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his lawmaker wife, Anri.

The city is part of the former justice minister’s Lower House constituency. Hamada, 76, said he did not receive cash from the Kawais in connection with last summer’s Upper House election, in which Anri Kawai won a seat for the first time.

Katsuyuki Kawai, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, previously served as a special advisor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before being named justice minister last year.

Secretaries for him and his wife, also a member of the LDP, were indicted after they were arrested in March on suspicion of paying daily allowances totaling ¥2.04 million ($19,000) to 14 campaign staffers in July last year, exceeding the legal cap of ¥15,000 per person per day.

Since then, prosecutors have similarly questioned several local politicians with close ties to Kawai, who is said to have played a pivotal role in his wife’s election campaign.

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