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Tokyo prosecutors to drop case against ex-PM Abe over dinner party allegations

  • December 19, 2020
  • , The Mainichi
  • English Press

TOKYO — The special investigation unit of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office appears to be making final adjustments with higher prosecutorial authorities to drop a case against former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe relating to expenses for controversial dinner functions that his support group hosted.

 

A group of some 660 lawyers and other parties had lodged a criminal complaint with prosecutors accusing Abe, 66, of violating the Political Funds Control Act, among other charges, over suspicions that his supporters’ group illicitly covered shortfalls in expenses for dinner functions held on the eve of controversial taxpayer-funded sakura parties without listing its contributions in political funding reports.

 

The final decision on whether or not the former prime minister should be held criminally responsible will be made by the end of the year at the earliest, based on the results of Abe’s statements to prosecutors. Abe’s head secretary and others who were involved in covering the shortfalls in expenses will likely face summary indictment on charges of violating the political funds control law.

 

According to sources close to the matter, Abe’s support group headed by the secretary in question has been hosting pre-sakura party dinner functions at hotels in Tokyo since 2013.

 

Abe’s office paid around 23 million yen to the hotels for holding the parties between 2015 and 2019, but participants were charged just 5,000 yen each, which only adds up to around 14 million yen. The former prime minister previously told the Diet, “There is no revenue or expenditure involving the supporters’ group, so there is no need to include (the transactions) in political funding reports.” However, investigations reportedly found that Abe’s office had covered the shortfalls

After receiving the criminal complaint, the special investigation unit launched a full-scale investigation around fall, and has heard from roughly 100 individuals including officials at Abe’s office. Prosecutors take the view that the amount Abe’s office collected in participation fees and the additional amount it covered should have been listed in political funding reports.

 

The secretary and others involved in the accounting process have admitted that Abe’s office covered the shortfalls, and acknowledged that they were required to describe the process in political funding reports. The special investigation unit is looking further into the matter on the assumption that the shortfalls were covered by political organizations close to Abe’s office.

 

Though the unit is also investigating whether or not the former prime minister was directly involved in the matter, it apparently hasn’t found clear evidence suggesting that Abe instructed his supporters’ group to cover the shortfalls or to avoid mentioning it in political funding reports — prompting the unit to deem it difficult to hold him criminally responsible.

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