Japanese investigators initiate the interrogation of lawmakers linked to Abe faction

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office has initiated interviews with members of the powerful Abe faction within the Liberal Democratic Party. These interviews are in connection with allegations that the faction covertly generated funds from cash accumulated during political fundraising events.

A significant portion of the 99-strong Abe faction is expected to undergo voluntary interviews over the course of the weekend. The purpose of these interviews is to gather information regarding suspicions of large kickbacks being received by lawmakers within the faction, the amounts involved, and the utilization of such funds.

Investigators are aiming to determine the extent of the alleged misconduct, focusing on factors such as the failure to report related information in official documents and the individual awareness of the activities in question. These activities stem from suspicions that the faction exceeded sales quotas for fundraising party tickets, resulting in unrecorded cash funds for the faction and its members.

It is estimated that the alleged kickbacks may have amounted to approximately ¥500 million over a span of five years, ranging from 2018 to 2022. The prosecutors’ special investigation squad, consisting of around 50 prosecutors, has been specifically targeting the faction’s accounting staff and the secretaries of lawmakers associated with the faction.

The squad’s line of questioning aims to shed light on the significant amounts of undocumented funds and their connection to ticket sales. Dozens of the faction’s members are expected to be questioned, including high-profile figures such as former secretary general Hirokazu Matsuno and Tsuyoshi Takagi.

Reports suggest that Matsuno, Takagi, and several others may have received kickbacks exceeding ¥10 million. Additionally, members like Yasutada Ono, Yoshitaka Ikeda, and Yaichi Tanigawa are suspected of having received kickbacks ranging from ¥40-50 million.

Furthermore, secretaries of faction members have reportedly claimed that they were instructed not to include funds returned from the faction in their financial reports, adding another layer to the allegations. The squad is also considering pursuing charges against the faction’s head accountant for suspected violations of the Political Funds Control Law.

Notably, similar suspicions have arisen regarding the Nikai faction and the Kishida faction. However, investigators plan to prioritize the thorough examination of the Abe faction due to suspicions of large-scale systematic creation of off-the-books hidden funds.

As the investigation intensifies, the Public Prosecutors Office remains committed to uncovering the truth behind the alleged financial misconduct within one of the most influential factions in the Japanese political landscape.

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