• Politics & Government

Source: Japan’s Former PM Abe Denied Involvement in Illegal Act Regarding Supporters’ Dinners

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Public Prosecutors Office building, which houses the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, is seen in Chiyoda, Ward, Tokyo.

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied he was involved in any wrongdoing regarding dinners on the eves of annual cherry blossom-viewing parties during voluntary questioning by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation squad, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned from a source close to the matter.

The squad plans to file by week’s end a summary indictment against Abe’s state-funded first secretary, who is the head of Abe’s support organization, on suspicion of violating the Political Funds Control Law by not including required information in income and expenditure reports.

Abe, 66, is not expected to be indicted.

From 2013 to last year, his support organization held the dinners at Tokyo hotels the day before the cherry blossom-viewing parties. Abe’s local supporters paid a fee of ¥5,000 per person, and food and drink were served.

According to the source, the first secretary was practically in charge of the accounting of the support organization, and despite the fact he paid the hotel the amount of fees collected and supplemented the shortfall in the expenses of the event, it is suspected that he failed to record the income and expenditure in the organization’s political fund balance report.

The first secretary is said to have stated during questioning by the squad that “the income and expenses from the dinners should have been included in the report.”

When Abe was prime minister, he told the Diet: “There was no income or expenditure for the support organization, so there was no need to include it in the income and expenditure report. There was absolutely no compensation [by the organization].”

However, according to a source close to Abe, when he asked the person in charge at his office to confirm whether the difference had been made up, Abe was falsely told that no compensation was made. Abe is also said to have denied any involvement in a violation of the law in the questioning by the squad.

In addition to the first secretary, Abe and others are also among the subjects of a complaint filed by a citizens’ group for allegations including a violation of the law.

Based on the fact that Abe does not hold any official position in the support organization and the results of the questioning, the squad seems to believe that Abe was likely unaware of the actual situation of the supplementary expenses for the dinners and the income and expenditure.