TOKYO (AFP) – A former Japanese Justice Minister was sentenced to three years in prison on Friday (June 18) for buying votes to elect his wife to national office, local media said.
Katsuyuki Kawai, 58, was found guilty of distributing 29 million yen (S $ 351,490 at today’s prices) to about 100 people in 2019 to secure a seat in the House of Lords for his wife, Anri, national broadcaster NHK said .
He was fined 1.3 million yen (SGD15,760) on top of jail time, local media added. Tokyo District Court officials were unable to immediately confirm the reports.
Katsuyuki, a close confidante of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, had revised his earlier claims of innocence and largely admitted the allegations against him.
Anri, who won her seat in the July 2019 election, has already been found guilty of her role in the system and given a 16-month suspended sentence earlier this year.
Katsuyuki’s sentence is not suspended, which means he faces jail time. But the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that he had appealed.
He was appointed Minister of Justice by Abe in 2019, but left after just a few weeks when the scandal surfaced.
The headquarters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are said to have backed Anri’s campaign with 150 million yen, an unusually large sum to stimulate campaigning efforts.