Public prosecutors decided again on Tuesday not to indict former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over a high-profile dinner party scandal.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation squad had been re-investigating Abe after the Tokyo No. 1 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, a panel of citizens, ruled in July this year that parts of prosecutors’ decision not to indict Abe were unjust.

The investigation squad said that it has found no new evidence in the investigation and judged it difficult to file criminal charges against Abe.

With the latest decision, the case will not be subject to screening by the inquest committee again.

In July, the inquest committee ruled that prosecutors were wrong not to indict Abe over possible violation of the public offices election law, saying that payments made by the Abe side to cover shortfalls in some dinner party costs amounted to donations to voters.

The dinner parties in question were held by Abe’s support group at a Tokyo hotel on the eve of the government’s publicly funded annual cherry blossom-viewing events.

The inquest committee also said that prosecutors should have indicted Abe for possible breach of the political funds control law, claiming that he failed to fulfill a duty of care in selecting and supervising the treasurer of his fund management organization.

Regarding the alleged violation of the public offices election law, the committee said that it was inadequate for prosecutors to decide not to indict Abe by relying almost solely on statements by some of the dinner party participants. It said that prosecutors should determine whether Abe recognized the criminality of covering some dinner party costs on the basis of objective evidence such as emails.

The special investigation squad said Tuesday that the statute of limitations has run out for parts of allegations over violations of the public offices election law and the political funds control law. It also said that there is no sufficient evidence to confirm the remaining allegations.

“Even in the re-investigation, we couldn’t find enough evidence to indict (Abe),” the investigation squad said.

In the scandal, the former prime minister’s support group omitted dinner party costs totaling some ¥30 million from its political funds reports over four years.

The prosecutors’ office has filed a summary indictment against a former state-paid secretary to Abe, who also served as the support group’s representative. The former secretary has paid a fine of ¥1 million.

In August this year, a civic group filed a criminal complaint against Abe and three others for alleged violation of the political funds control law.

On Tuesday, the special investigation squad also decided not to indict the four over the allegations, citing lack of evidence.

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