ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
Politics

Japan's ex-PM Abe avoids indictment over 'cherry-blossom' scandal

Tokyo prosecutors questioned former leader, set to charge his secretary

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to avoid charges over dinner receptions for supporters.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prosecutors are unlikely to charge former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after questioning him on a voluntary basis over allegations that his political group illegally covered part of the costs of dinner receptions for supporters, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

Following the rare questioning of a former leader of the country, the special investigation team of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is planning not to indict Abe, the sources said, adding the decision will be made at an early date.

Even if Abe is not charged, his political influence could be weakened because his remarks in parliament did not accord with the facts. The development could also deal a blow to his successor, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who served as chief cabinet secretary under Abe and defended him over the scandal during press conferences and in parliament.

The prosecutors, who questioned Abe on Monday, are planning to file a summary indictment against his state-paid secretary soon on allegations of not keeping records of incomes and expenditures related to the dinner functions, as required by law. Total revenues and costs not declared in political fund reports possibly exceed 40 million yen ($387,000), the sources said.

People close to Abe have said the secretary offered false explanations when questioned by the former prime minister about the matter, so he only recently learned of the scheme to cover part of the costs.

According to the sources, Abe visited his constituency in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan, from Saturday to Monday, arriving at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Monday afternoon. The questioning could have taken place sometime during the five and a half hours before he returned to his home in the capital.

Prosecutors appear to have questioned Abe about the scheme to cover part of the dinner costs and how his remarks in parliament concerning the matter were contradictory. Abe is believed to have denied involvement in any wrongdoing, the sources said.

A summary indictment is a simplified proceeding that skips court examination and applies to less serious offenses resulting in fines of 1 million yen or less.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the government's top spokesman, declined to comment on reports that Abe had been questioned, citing the ongoing investigation.

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan said Monday the lower house record shows Abe made false remarks regarding the allegations at least 118 times between November last year and March.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more