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Politics

Prosecutors decide not to indict ex-PM Abe over party spending

Fine through summary indictment sought for his state-paid secretary

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers a reporter's question after attending a plenary session of the House of Representatives on December 4. (Photo by Karina Noka)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prosecutors said Thursday they decided not to indict former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over allegations his camp illegally paid millions of yen for dinner receptions held for supporters.

They will instead issue a summary indictment of one of Abe's state-paid secretaries, Hiroyuki Haikawa, 61, and seek a fine for his alleged failure to keep records of income and expenditures related to the dinner functions as required by law.

Abe, who became Japan's longest-serving prime minister before stepping down in September due to health reasons, is expected to appear in parliament possibly on Friday to address the issue, having promised to do so once prosecutors wrapped up their investigation, ruling party sources said.

Abe has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing since the scandal emerged in November last year. When questioned on a voluntary basis on Monday, the former prime minister explained he was not aware that his side had covered part of the party costs, according to investigative sources.

But Abe could be held to account for his earlier remarks denying his office covered the shortfall.

The development is set to deal a blow to his successor Yoshihide Suga, who served as chief Cabinet secretary under Abe and defended the then premier during press conferences and in Diet sessions.

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