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Japan’s prosecutors arrest former senior Vice Justice Minister over vote-buying allegations

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Tokyo: Former Japanese senior vice justice minister Mito Kakizawa was arrested Thursday over alleged vote-buying in a Tokyo ward mayoral election, prosecutors said.

The 52-year-old lawmaker, who belonged to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), is suspected of having used around 2.6 million yen (18,000 U.S. dollars) to help Yayoi Kimura win the April mayoral election of Tokyo’s Koto Ward. The payment is judged to have been an effort to buy votes, according to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office.

It has been revealed that Kakizawa’s office gave cash to Koto Ward assembly members as instructed by the lawmaker, and remuneration to Kimura’s election campaign staff.

Kakizawa has denied the allegations, saying the payments to the assembly members were his customary mid-campaign contribution ahead of a ward assembly election also held in April, and he had no intention of buying votes, according to media reports.

Kakizawa resigned as senior vice justice minister in October after admitting to recommending Kimura’s team use paid online ads for her election campaign. Paid advertisements online for specific candidates, rather than political parties, are prohibited by the election law.

The lawmaker also left the LDP on Dec. 14, when his offices were raided by prosecutors.

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