Japanese lawmaker and former senior vice justice minister Mito Kakizawa was indicted Wednesday for violating the election law by allegedly running illegal campaign financing related to a Tokyo ward election last April, prosecutors said.

The 52-year-old former ruling Liberal Democratic Party member, who was arrested along with his four secretaries in late December, is suspected of making payments, or having offered to do so, totaling 2.8 million yen ($19,000) as bribes in connection with the Koto Ward mayoral election -- allegations to which he has admitted.

Mito Kakizawa. (Kyodo)

The indictment of the House of Representatives member could further fuel public distrust in politics, delivering a blow to the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his ruling party, which has already been jolted by a separate political funds scandal involving the LDP's biggest faction.

Kakizawa has signaled his intention to quit as a lawmaker, according to sources close to the matter.

Of his four secretaries who were arrested, two faced summary indictments, which led a court to issue orders to pay fines, while prosecutors decided not to indict the other two.

At the time of his arrest, Kakizawa was suspected of conspiring with the four and providing a total of 1 million yen to five former or incumbent Koto assembly members while allegedly offering payment of 600,000 yen in total to three other local assembly members.

Other allegations included payment of 200,000 yen to a staff member of Yayoi Kimura, the candidate he backed for the mayoral race, and transferring a total of around 800,000 yen to a former local assembly member who is said to have campaigned for Kimura.

The vote-buying scandal emerged following revelations that Kakizawa had proposed using an online advertisement in Kimura's campaign, which is prohibited by the Public Offices Election Act. The son of a former foreign minister resigned as senior vice justice minister in October, and Kimura stepped down as mayor in November.

Staff from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office carry out items confiscated during a search the office of House of Representatives member Mito Kakizawa in Tokyo's Koto Ward on Nov. 16, 2023. (Kyodo)

Kimura, 58, who is also a former lower house lawmaker of the LDP, was indicted Wednesday without arrest over the alleged election law violation for using the paid advertisement on YouTube and a payment of 1 million yen to the former local assembly member.

Kimura has admitted to the charge related to the illegal ads while denying the payment was a bribe, the sources said.

Kakizawa and his four secretaries had initially explained that they offered money to several Koto Ward assembly members as a customary mid-campaign contribution ahead of a ward assembly election also held in April, according to the sources.

But he later decided not to contest the allegations, saying it was unavoidable that the payment was interpreted as intended to influence the election, given the situation at the time.

Violators of the public office election law on vote-buying face imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen. Those who use paid advertisements online for specific candidates face imprisonment of up to two years or a fine of up to 500,000 yen.


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