Supreme Prosecutors Office to Question Two Prosecutors over Allegedly Induced Statements in Bribery Case

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Defendant Tsuneyasu Kido, right, speaks during a press conference alongside his attorney after his trial in Hiroshima on Wednesday.

The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office plans to question two prosecutors who were in charge of investigating a former local assembly member and preparing him to act as a witness in a bribery case involving a former justice minister, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

In addition to investigating the two prosecutors of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation squad, the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office will also examine whether there were any organizational factors behind an alleged inducement of statements from the assembly member, according to sources.

It is unusual for the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office to directly launch an investigation.

The Yomiuri Shimbun has independently obtained recordings that appear to show a prosecutor inducing former Hiroshima city assembly member Tsuneyasu Kido to sign a written statement by suggesting that he would not be indicted if he did so. Another prosecutor is thought to have induced Kido to testify in accordance with his signed statement in a pre-trial rehearsal. Kido, 68, was being investigated for taking a bribe from former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai, 60. Kawai’s prison sentence has been finalized.

The investigation by the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office is being handled by the Inspection Guidance Division, according to sources.

The division was established in 2011 in response to evidence tampering by the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation squad that was uncovered in 2010. It usually investigates misconduct by prosecutors indirectly through district and high public prosecutors offices, but this time it will investigate directly.

Interviews are being considered with the two prosecutors’ superiors and the prosecutors who were in charge of interrogating local politicians other than Kido, the sources said.

Kido’s second hearing was held on Wednesday at the Hiroshima District Court. Kido, who is a defendant charged with bribe-taking, explained that the two prosecutors had suggested he would not be indicted, and that he did as they asked.

He said that the prosecutor in charge of the investigation asked him whether he would take the prosecution’s side or Kawai’s side. He also said that when he denied knowing that the money had been bribe, he was told that if he denied it, he would be subject to a compulsory investigation.

The defense had asked to be allowed to examine the two prosecutors in court, but presiding judge Yuki Goto rejected the request. The trial will conclude on Sept. 28, and the verdict is set to be handed down on Oct. 26.