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A man engaged in internet-related reputation management has said that former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai requested the deletion of personal computer data shortly after an alleged vote-buying scandal involving him and his wife, Anri, came to light last year.

According to a statement of confession made by the man, read out by prosecutors during a hearing Monday as part of the trial of Anri Kawai at Tokyo District Court, Katsuyuki Kawai, 57, a lawmaker in the House of Representatives, met with the man at the former minister’s residence in a dormitory for Diet members in Tokyo on Nov. 3 last year.

At the time, Katsuyuki Kawai told the man that staff at his office may have taken some data without authorization, and that he wanted to delete any data that could cause a problem if it was leaked, the man said in the statement.

On that day, Katsuyuki Kawai allegedly deleted PC data at his residence using data deletion software purchased by the man, according to the statement. The man also said he visited Kawai’s office in Tokyo and the couple’s offices in Hiroshima Prefecture the following day to delete PC data there.

Katsuyuki Kawai and Anri Kawai, 46, are suspected of distributing cash mainly to mayors and local assembly members in Hiroshima to round up votes for Anri in the July 2019 election for the House of Councilors, in violation of the public offices election law.

According to the opening statement by the prosecutors, the deleted data included a list of suspected cash recipients that was drawn up by Katsuyuki Kawai. The list also allegedly showed how much money was given to each recipient.

The man was an acquaintance of Katsuyuki Kawai and was responsible for work to improve the Kawais’ profile online during their election campaigns.

Anri Kawai was elected to the Diet for the first time in the Upper House election last summer, running in the Hiroshima prefectural constituency as a candidate for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. At that time, the man who made the statement is believed to have started a blog under a pseudonym and posted a message saying that the incumbent candidate from the LDP and the prefectural LDP chapter in Hiroshima were trying to make Anri Kawai lose in the election.

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