Ex-Lawmaker Kakizawa Found Guilty over Vote-Buying

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Miko Kakizawa

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Tokyo District Court on Thursday found former lawmaker Mito Kakizawa guilty over vote-buying for a mayoral election in Tokyo’s Koto Ward last April.

Presiding Judge Katsuko Mukai sentenced the 53-year-old former member of the House of Representatives, to two years in prison, suspended for five years. The prosecution had sought a two-year prison sentence.

“It is malicious and undermines trust in the fairness of elections, which is the foundation of democracy,” Mukai said of the vote-buying.

The case was handled under the “100-day trial” fast-track process for a ruling within 100 days of the indictment. Kakizawa had said in hearings that he will not challenge the charges against him.

“The act was based on a self-centered idea of gaining an advantage in the election campaign by spending a large amount of money,” the judge said. “He led the election-buying to strengthen his political base, despite being in a position expected to conduct activities fairly.”

“There are no signs of the suspect facing up to his acts and deepening his remorse,” she added.

Kakizawa stepped down as state minister of justice last October to take responsibility for advising former Koto Mayor Yayoi Kimura to use online advertisements during the mayoral election campaign period, which is banned.

He resigned as a lawmaker in February this year, after his arrest and indictment.

Kimura, 58, who won the election, resigned as mayor last November. She has been indicted, without being arrested, on charges of violating the public offices election law and is expected to attend her first court hearing on Monday.

According to the ruling, Kakizawa offered a total of ¥2 million to nine people, including members of the ward assembly, around February to April last year as remuneration for campaigning to help Kimura win her election.

The former lawmaker also paid about ¥800,000 in remuneration to a former assembly member involved in campaigning around July to October the same year, the ruling said.