News International review

Japan ex-Prime Minister questioned by prosecutors

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was voluntarily questioned by Tokyo prosecutors in a case of allegations that his political group illegally covered part of the cost of banquet for his supporters.

According to The Japan Times, citing sources close to the matter, prosecutors were planning to file a case against Abe for allegedly not recording incomes and expenditures related to the dinner events.

According to prosecutors, total revenues and costs not declared in political fund reports may exceed the total income and expenses not reported in the reports of the political foundation may exceed 385 thousand dollars.

According to newspaper sources, a group of supporters of former Prime Minister Abe held annual cherry blossom-viewing parties.

Bills for the events held, at two luxury hotels in Tokyo, reached $ 222,000 in total over a five-year period through 2019.

However, Abe’s office is suspected of covering a shortfall of about $77,000.

For his part, Abe has repeatedly stated in parliament that all the costs of holding the banquets were covered by their participants. At least 800 supporters of Abe attended the 2019 edition of cherry blossom viewing party.

Tokyo prosecutors said they do not comment on investigations. Abe’s office declined to comment.

Sources of the Japanese newspaper said that prosecutor’s office is unlikely to proceed with building the case against the former Prime Minister.

However, if proved that Abe had violated the election law by «contributing to covering the cost of the gathering», it is tantamount «to buying votes».

The media noted that the development could weaken Abe’s political clout and deal a blow to his successor Yoshihide Suga, who served as chief Cabinet secretary under Abe.