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Tokyo District Court on Wednesday found Yoshiki Akita, former chief of an egg production firm, guilty of bribing former agriculture minister Takamori Yoshikawa.

Presiding Judge Katsuko Mukai sentenced Akita, the 87-year-old former chief of Akita Foods, based in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, to 20 months in prison with a suspension of four years.

Mukai said Akita proactively provided a massive amount of money to Yoshikawa to seek favors for egg farmers, including over international farming standards and government lending to the industry.

As a result of the bribery, unprecedented favors, including holding a lobby meeting attended by lawmakers, were handed out, the judge said.

Akita’s acts “considerably harmed the public’s trust in agricultural and overall politics,” Mukai said.

The judge added that Akita’s insistence that he acted on behalf of the interests of the poultry industry is based on a limited perspective that represents the interests of a specific industry. Resorting to illegal means cannot be justifiable, Mukai said.

According to the ruling, Akita gave Yoshikawa a total of ¥5 million on three occasions between November 2018 and August 2019 to gain favors for the poultry industry.

Akita was also found guilty of violating the political funds control law by having the company spend ¥5.34 million for tickets to political fundraising parties for Yoshikawa and others under the names of 16 employees.

Yoshikawa has pleaded not guilty to bribery charges against him, claiming that he believed the money he received was for political donations.

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