Japan lawmaker Sonoura questioned by prosecutors over funding

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Kentaro Sonoura

TOKYO Dec. 14 (Jiji Press) — Japanese public prosecutors have questioned ruling party lawmaker Kentaro Sonoura on a voluntary basis over allegations that his political groups underreported income from fundraising parties, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

Political groups linked to the 50-year-old Liberal Democratic Party member in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament, are suspected of underreporting income by about ¥40 million in violation of the political funds control law, the sources said.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office has already questioned a secretary to Sonoura who has been in charge of accounting as part of its investigation into the allegations, the sources said.

A political fund management group headed by Sonoura booked ¥43.62 million in income from six fundraising parties held between 2018 and 2020.

A separate political group linked to the Lower House lawmaker booked about ¥10 million in income from three fundraising parties between 2017 and 2019.

But the two groups allegedly collected some ¥40 million more from the fundraisers, the sources said.

“I didn’t recognize the underreporting. I left things to the secretary too much,” Sonoura told reporters when the allegations surfaced late last month.

A university professor last year filed a criminal complaint against Sonoura and the secretary, accusing them of failing to report ¥1.62 million in fundraiser income in 2019.

Sonoura was first elected to the Lower House in 2005 and has held such posts as state foreign minister under the administration of the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.