The Japanese local council allegedly asked a friend to falsify an estimate in order to misuse political funds

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Amagasaki Municipal Assembly member Keisuke Mitsumoto is seen in this photo taken on April 8, 2021. (Mainichi/Kiyomasa Nakamura)

A member of the community assembly of Amagasaki in Hyogo Prefecture has allegedly asked an acquaintance who runs an electronics store to create a fictitious price estimate through the free messaging app Line, sources close to the matter revealed to the Mainichi Shimbun to have.

The revelation comes after MP Keisuke Mitsumoto, 42, was expelled from the Hyogo Ishin no Kai, a regional branch of the conservative national opposition party Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), for fabricating delivery notes for items related to political issues bought activities.

The Amagasaki Municipal Assembly is investigating the cases and alleges that Mitsumoto repeatedly mishandled funds for political activities.

The making of delivery notes surfaced during a community meeting in June. Mitsumoto, who is in his third term, withdrew about 760,000 yen (about US$5,600) in September 2021 from an account used by the assembly faction to which he belonged to manage spending on political activities by claimed he bought computers and other items from a large household appliance dealer.

While Mitsumoto had presented delivery slips for computers and other items to the city assembly secretariat as evidence of the use of funds for political activities, investigation by his assembly faction revealed that the delivery slips were forged. Mitsumoto explained at the time, “I had lost the receipts, so I cut and pasted computer data and paper,” and “I figured it would be okay if I replaced them later,” claiming the purchase itself was true.

In addition, it emerged that Mitsumoto had withdrawn 750,000 yen (about US$5,500) from the account in June 2021 without undergoing a settlement procedure and refunded the same amount nine months later. Regarding this case, Mitsumoto stated, “I had paid cash in advance to an electronics store (to buy PCs and other items), but the store couldn’t deliver the items, so I canceled the contract. As the store had forgotten the matter, the refund was delayed.”

However, his acquaintance who ran the equipment store told the assembly faction’s investigation that they actually received no cash from Mitsumoto. The shopkeeper also revealed that Mitsumoto asked them through Line to create a fake price estimate on May 31 this year.

The city assembly secretariat found the series of cash withdrawals suspicious and asked Mitsumoto to produce relevant documents. The fictitious cost estimate was one of the documents submitted. It is suspected that Mitsumoto tried to use the wrong estimate to justify his cash withdrawal.

The Hyogo Ishin no Kai ousted Mitsumoto on June 17, and the municipal assembly unanimously passed a resolution calling for his resignation on June 28.

When the Mainichi Shimbun reached him, an attorney representing Mitsumoto declined to comment on the matter, stating via email, “I will refrain from responding to individual questions.”

(Japanese original by Sanae Kameda, Hanshin Bureau, and Atsuko Nakata, Kobe Bureau)

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