Tokyo – Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday apologized for making inadvertently inaccurate statements about a political spending scandal that clouded the first months of his administration.
Japanese prosecutors said the apology came hours after he claimed to be an ally of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over alleged violations of political spending rules.
Prosecutors said Mr Abe himself would not be charged in relation to the case, an unusual statement that appeared to be aimed at dismissing media speculation about his fate.
Mr Suga, who succeeded Mr Abe as Prime Minister in September, has not been accused of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, Mr. Suga spent nearly eight years of Mr. Abe as his top spokesman and political fixer, defending him against allegations of wrongdoing in the press and Japan’s parliament.
The remnants of Mr Abe’s scandal – including several alleged violations of the country’s election and political financing laws – have stigmatized Mr Suga’s administration, which is already recovering from public anger over its handling of coronoviruses. A poll by The Asahi Shimbun, a daily newspaper last weekend, polled 39 percent, leading to nearly 65 percent of Prime Ministerial elections.
Prosecutors are calling for Hiroyuki Hiwa, a 61-year-old former aide of Mr. Abe, to be punished under a brief legal process reserved for relatively minor violations for fines under about $ 10,000. The declaration effectively ensures that the charges will not be aired in public court hearings.
Mr. Hakawa alleged that hundreds of thousands of dollars of true money were paid to Mr. Abe’s political supporters using campaign funds for the banquet. The dinner was held in a luxury hotel in Tokyo ahead of an annual Cherry Blossom Viewing Party hosted by the Prime Minister over a period of four years.
Both Mr. Abe and Mr. Suga have consistently denied any wrongdoing. But after the prosecutors’ announcement, the two men apologized to Parliament for making false statements, saying they misrepresented the facts surrounding the scandal.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday evening, Mr Pala and trembling Mr Suga said that in the process of defending Mr Abe, he answered questions from Parliament which were “different from the facts”. In this regard, I express my deepest apologies to the nation. “
In Mr. Suga’s echoes, Mr. Abe apologized for previous statements about the scandal, which he said were “contrary to the truth,” but added that he had not been informed of the underreporting and that That unworthy people were unknowingly.
The amount involved in the charges against Mr. Haikawa may seem small by standards of political corruption in other countries, but they were big news in Japan, where politicians have been forced out of office for minor violations of campaign finance rules, such as Give the potatoes away.
The cherry blossom viewing party, which has been hosted by Japan’s prime ministers since the 1950s and paid for with public money, became the center of a major public scandal late last year when it was revealed that Mr. Abe and his colleagues invited thousands of people to participate in the years of political supporters. Mr. Suga helped set the guest list for the events.
Opposition lawmakers requested to see it after the authorities revealed that the proposed guest list for the party of the case had been changed. A resignation from the post in September, citing health issues, demanded an investigation to harass Mr Abe.
In a statement, prosecutors said they would not pursue charges against Mr. Abe in relation to the party watching the banquet or the Cherry Blossom due to lack of evidence.
Local media widely reported that Mr Abe had submitted for voluntary questioning by prosecutors about the issue on Monday.
On Twitter, users supported the prosecutor’s decision to withdraw the charges against Mr. Abe. Authorities tweeted on Thursday morning pressing the charges, with the hashtag “#abenomics”, a drama in the name of the former Prime Minister’s economic revival campaign. Koichi Nakano, a vocal critic of political science professor and former leader at Sochi University, said his Christmas wish was to have Santa Claus imprison Mr. Abe at the North Pole.
This outrage mirrored widespread disappointment with Mr Abe, who during his time as the country’s longest-serving prime minister, had faced numerous impact-based scandals – a record he had made of his economic efforts and his own reforms. The medium achieved strong economic growth on the back. Efficient handling of President Trump.
Most famously, he was publicly accused of improperly selling public land to a political ally at unreasonably discounted prices. A government official caught in the scam committed suicide.
The scandals were never linked to the former leader, who has denied any wrongdoing, but sparked public anger that Mr Abe had to pay for his job.
His reputation was tarnished by his colleagues’ run-in with the law. Earlier this year, one of his political opponents and Anri Kawai, and the wife of a former justice minister in his cabinet, were accused of buying votes to win elections in the upper house of parliament. He is currently on trial in Tokyo, where he has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Makiko Inuo And Hikari Hida Contributed to reporting.