Former agriculture minister Yoshikawa found guilty of accepting bribes

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Takamori Yoshikawa

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Tokyo District Court on Thursday found former agriculture minister Takamori Yoshikawa guilty over taking ¥5 million in bribes from an egg producer.

Presiding Judge Katsuko Mukai sentenced Yoshikawa, 71, to two years and six months in prison, suspended for four years, and a surcharge of ¥5 million, recognizing the money the former minister received as bribes and calling his act “extremely malicious.”

Yoshikawa had claimed that he was innocent.

The court case centered around whether the money Yoshikawa received over three occasions between November 2018 and August 2019 from Yoshiki Akita, former chief of the egg production giant, Akita Foods, should be considered as bribes.

In the ruling, Mukai said, based on Akita’s testimony, that the former egg producer representative gave the money to Yoshikawa as a reward for organizing opposition to the World Organization for Animal Health’s proposed animal welfare standards, on the grounds that such standards would hurt domestic livestock producers, as well as for urging the government-affiliated Japan Finance Corp. to ease lending conditions for small businesses. Akita has been convicted of bribe-giving.

The presiding judge determined that Yoshikawa recognized the money as bribes, dismissing the defense’s claim that the former minister believed the money was for helping political activities as he had received a total of ¥18 million as donations from Akita over several years.