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A key executive of a group spearheading a recall petition against Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura, in relation to a 2019 exhibition, has admitted to forging finger stamps and signatures under instructions from the group leader.

In an exclusive interview with the Chunichi Shimbun, Takeshi Yamada, 52, a member of Tokoname Municipal Assembly who served as an executive in the recall group, admitted his deep involvement in the incident. He resigned his membership of the assembly on April 15.

“Following secretary-general Takahiro Tanaka’s instructions, I finger stamped alongside many signatures written by the same person in Nagoya during late October to early November last year,” said Yamada.

His comments mark the first time one of the group’s executives have acknowledged their role in the incident. Yamada played a central role in the recall campaign, crafting activity plans and asking for signatures on the streets with Tanaka. He is currently being questioned by Aichi Prefectural Police.

“I deeply regret my actions and involvement in the forgery of signatures. By exposing my wrongdoing, I hope to get to the root of the incident,” said Yamada. “I apologize for ruining efforts by the citizens seeking the governor’s recall.”

Takeshi Yamada | CHUNICHI SHIMBUN
Takeshi Yamada | CHUNICHI SHIMBUN

According to Yamada, Tanaka told him to come to the group’s office in Nagoya on Oct. 26 last year, the day after the group’s deadline for gathering signatures, only to be told that documents with many signatures without finger stamps would be delivered.

Tanaka told him that the signatures need to be accompanied by finger stamps, and they decided to work on it at a public facility in Nagoya.

While Yamada himself added more than 500 finger stamps, Tanaka and others helped with the task, he said.

The documents on which Yamada placed finger stamps had been fabricated with the involvement of a Nagoya-based ad-related company, and were all delivered from the southern Kyushu region, Yamada quoted Tanaka as saying.

Looking back, he now thinks that the signatures that he put finger stamps beside were fabricated by part-time workers in Saga.

Having served as an executive director at a nonprofit organization, Yamada was elected to the Tokoname Municipal Assembly for the first time in April 2019, and had been serving his first term.

“I decided to resign to take responsibility. I felt that I should no longer serve as an assembly member,” said Yamada.

Later in May, Tanaka also admitted that he instructed group members to hire part-timers in Saga city to write down signatures in the recall petition from a list of names.

Tanaka had denied any involvement in the incident or refused to comment on the incident in the past.

“I was impatient over the fact that we weren’t able to gather enough signatures,” he said in an interview with the Chunichi Shimbun.

This section features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original articles were published April 16 and May 3.

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