A former lawmaker of Komeito, the junior party in the ruling coalition, and three others were indicted Tuesday for illegally mediating public loans to companies, including some hit by the coronavirus pandemic, prosecutors said.
Kiyohiko Toyama, who stepped down as a Komeito lawmaker in February, and Akira Shibuya, who used to work as an aide to Masataka Ota, a former House of Representatives member of the ruling party, are suspected of separately receiving about ¥10 million in return for helping to secure loans from Japan Finance Corp., even though the two were not licensed to do so.
Toyama, 52, served as a senior vice minister at the Finance Ministry, which manages the government-backed lender, for one year to September 2020. He was regarded as a future leader of the junior coalition partner of the Liberal Democratic Party.
Toyama’s indictment without arrest came after he resigned from parliament for visiting a hostess bar in Tokyo despite government calls to avoid unnecessary outings under a state of emergency imposed in response to surging coronavirus infections.
Toyama, a former member of the Lower House, and Shibuya, 61, admitted to the charges and apologized.
Keiichi Ishii, secretary general of Komeito, said in a statement, “It is truly regrettable and (their conduct is) absolutely unforgivable.”
Komeito is anxious about the potential impact on a House of Councilors election slated for next summer, with a member of the party saying Toyama’s case will be a “serious blow.”
The LDP, headed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, is largely seeing it as not affecting his administration because Toyama is not currently a legislator.
The opposition bloc is putting pressure on Komeito ahead of an ordinary parliamentary session beginning in January.
“It is necessary to shed light on the truth,” Kenta Izumi, leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters.
According to the indictment, the four men brokered 198 public loans between June 2019 and June this year.
The two others indicted are Atsushi Maki, 74, an executive of an environment firm, and Yutaka Kawashima, 78, a business consultant. They served as middlemen between the struggling companies and Toyama and Shibuya.
Toyoma became involved in the scheme from around March 2020 and was the sole mediator in 82 of the cases, the indictment showed.
The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office in August searched Toyama’s home in Fukuoka and Ota’s office in Tokyo, among other locations.
Since the four men admitted to the allegations while being questioned on a voluntary basis and were unlikely to run or hide evidence, the prosecutors decided to indict them without arrest.
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