• Crime & Courts

Secretary of Arrested Japanese Lawmaker ‘Drew Up List of Cash Offerings’ Connected to Mayoral Election in Ward of Tokyo

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Mito Kakizawa

A secretary of Mito Kakizawa — the House of Representatives member and former senior vice justice minister recently arrested on suspicion of violating the Public Offices Election Law — compiled a list of ward councillors who had been offered cash and reported the information to Kakizawa, according to sources.

Based on the timing of the alleged cash provisions — less than two months before the vote — and the circumstances of the election campaign, the special investigation squad of the Tokyo Public Prosecutors Office has reportedly determined that the money was used to buy votes in the mayoral election for Koto Ward, Tokyo.

The prosecutors are believed to consider the list as evidence, fueling speculation that Kakizawa oversaw the vote-buying process.

Kakizawa and his four secretaries were arrested Thursday by the special investigation squad on suspicion of violating the Public Offices Election Law. Kakizawa allegedly provided a total of ¥1 million to five ward councillors and others in exchange for campaigning efforts aimed at electing former ward Mayor Yayoi Kimura, whom Kakizawa supported.

In late February, following 58-year-old Kimura’s announcement that she would run for the mayoral position and when it became clear that the election race would pit Kimura against the then incumbent, Kakizawa instructed his secretaries to provide ¥200,000 each to at least 10 ward councillors and others, according to the sources. Five individuals accepted the money, while the others refused to meet or receive cash.

Kakizawa’s policy secretary, Masaki Ito, 51, who was also arrested, is thought to have compiled the list of councillors based on information from the other secretaries.

Kakizawa’s arrest charge also contends that he provided approximately ¥800,000 to a former ward councillor who served as a campaign executive for Kimura. However, Kakizawa reportedly has denied that the money was for vote-buying, saying he “had a contract with the former ward councillor for consulting work, and paid him about ¥200,000 each month as an advisory fee.” But despite Kakizawa’s explanation, such a contract document has not come to light and the special investigation squad believes that work commensurate with the advisory fee was not carried out.

Kakizawa and his four secretaries deny the charges.