Tokyo, April 23 (Jiji Press)–Japanese public prosecutors have questioned former industry minister Isshu Sugawara as part of an investigation into his alleged campaign violations, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.
In a statement, Sugawara, a House of Representatives member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said he would respond in a sincere way to authorities’ requests.
In June last year, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office recognized that Sugawara gave a total of some 300,000 yen to 27 people in his constituency in the capital between 2017 and 2019 through a secretary in the name of condolence money.
The public offices election law in principle bans politicians from giving money to voters in their constituencies. At that time, the prosecutors’ office did not file charges against Sugawara, concluding that he had no clear intent to violate the law.
In February this year, however, a prosecution inquest panel said Sugawara should be charged as he handed down the money in consideration of future elections.
In addition to the condolence money, Sugawara has provided cash ranging from several thousands of yen to some 10,000 yen per event as congratulatory money or membership fees at gatherings of local communities, sources close to the matter said.
In October 2019, Sugawara resigned as industry minister just after a magazine reported the campaign scandal.