National

Ex-minister Isshu Sugawara escapes indictment over money scandal

Jiji

Public prosecutors decided Thursday not to indict former industry minister Isshu Sugawara over a money scandal that forced him to resign from office last October.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation squad made the decision after questioning Sugawara, 58, and others on the matter, according to informed sources.

At the center of the scandal was kōden (condolence money) distributed by a secretary of the House of Representatives lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The public offices election law bans donations by politicians to voters in their constituencies, except for some cases including kōden payments at funerals and wakes attended by politicians themselves.

At a news conference on June 16, Sugawara admitted that he had had his secretary hand over kōden money at funerals held while he was overseas. “I feel regret for that,” the former minister said.

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