Japan Top Prosecutors Office To Admit Alleged Inducement of Statements ‘Inappropriate’

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A government building that houses the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office

The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office has concluded in an internal investigation that a local assembly member suspected of taking a bribe was questioned “inappropriately” during an alleged attempt by a prosecutor to obtain confessions related to a vote-buying case for the 2019 House of Councillors election, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The prosecutor from the special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office allegedly induced Tsuneyasu Kido — a then Hiroshima city assembly member — into admitting to having taken a bribe, by hinting during questioning that the member could avoid indictment.

Regarding the behavior of a different prosecutor who allegedly pressured Kido to testify in accordance with his signed statements during a pre-trial rehearsal, the top prosecutors’ office decided that the prosecutor’s actions were “not inappropriate, as such,” concluding that there had been no systematic direction, according to sources close to the matter.

The findings of the internal investigation are expected to be made public next week.

Relevant authorities have concluded that the actions of the first prosecutor to question Kido were not serious enough to warrant disciplinary action, and are expected to merely issue “guidance” regarding his investigative methods, according to the sources.

A recording of the interrogation of Kido — suspected of receiving a bribe from former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai, 60, who was convicted in connection with the vote-buying case — the prosecutor was found to have said to Kido, “I want you to continue as an assembly member,” and “I’m considering a light punishment for you, sans indictment.”

Kido, 68, was found guilty at a district court, but has launched an appeal with a higher court.

The Hiroshima District Court’s October ruling noted, “It is undeniable that the defendant was questioned on the assumption that he could evade indictment.”

According to the sources, the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office interviewed the prosecutors in charge of the interrogation and the pretrial rehearsal, as well as their special investigation squad superiors, and determined that there were concerns about the behavior of the first prosecutor who questioned Kido.

The top prosecutors office concluded that the supervisors did not issue instructions in connection with the inducement of statements and opined that the pretrial rehearsal could not be discerned as an inducement to testify against the defendant’s will.