Prosecutors are planning to indict without arrest former farm minister Takamori Yoshikawa over allegations that he received a total of ¥5 million from an egg production company while in office, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.
Yoshikawa, who resigned as a lawmaker in December citing chronic heart problems, has admitted to receiving cash, but explained during voluntary questioning that he had taken it as an “inaugural celebration,” according to the sources.
But the prosecutors seem to have judged that the money was a bribe to win favor, the sources said.
The planned charge against the 70-year-old, who served under Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s predecessor Shinzo Abe, is expected to deal a blow to Suga’s Cabinet, which has been struggling with falling approval ratings.
A Kyodo News survey, released Sunday, showed that the approval rate for Suga’s Cabinet stood at 41.3%, down 9 percentage points from the previous survey in December, reflecting the public’s dissatisfaction over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Yoshikawa is suspected of receiving cash on three occasions from an 87-year-old former representative of Akita Foods Co. in Hiroshima Prefecture, when he served as agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister between October 2018 and September 2019, according to the sources.
The former representative, Yoshiki Akita, has admitted to people around him that he offered cash to Yoshikawa to seek a number of favors for the egg farming industry, the sources said, adding he is expected to face a similar charge to the former minister.
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