Abe apologizes over funding misstatements

Tokyo, Dec 26 : Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has apologized in the Lower House of Parliament for false statements he had made earlier regarding an allegation that a group managing his political funds partially covered the costs of dinner receptions for supporters.

Sources close to the matter said the lower house’s research bureau found Abe made 118 statements in Parliament that were incongruous with the facts, reports Xinhua news agency.

Such lies, reportedly, comprise denials by his camp of covering the shortfall of the supporters’ dinner functions and the need to keep financial records.

“I want to make a sincere apology to the public and to all members of the ruling and opposition parties for bringing about this situation,” Abe told the lower house’s steering committee on Friday, but denied any wrongdoing.

“The accounting was done without my knowledge. I had checked with my office again and again. I gave answers to the Diet to the best of my knowledge at that time.

“But ultimately, some of what I said was contrary to the facts,” the former leader said.

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What local media described as a “rare correction of past statements by a former Prime Minister”, Abe’s apology followed a press conference he gave the previous day stating he had no knowledge of any missteps regarding bookkeeping, but apologized for making what transpired to be false statements.

Japanese prosecutors have decided not to indict Abe over allegations that his support group failed to report spending and revenue related to annual parties thrown for his supporters at high-class Tokyo hotels in its political fund reports.

The prosecutors instead issued a summary indictment for Hiroyuki Haikawa, a state-paid secretary to Abe, and will seek to fine him for failing to report in the group’s political fund spending and revenue related to parties that were held on the eve of government-funded cherry blossom viewing events during Abe’s premiership.

As well as being Abe’s secretary, Haikawa, 61, also headed the political support group that organised the parties.

The parties held over a five-year period through last year cost 23 million yen ($222,000) with the amount being higher than revenue collected from attendees.

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Many of the parties’ guests were voters in Abe’s constituency in Yamaguchi prefecture.

The indictment said that Haikawa did not record the income and expenditures for the opulent dinner parties held between 2016 and 2019.

Haikawa admitted he didn’t keep legal records of the spending and expenditure related to the parties, in violation of Japan’s political funds control law, sources close to the matter said.

The prosecutors did not indict Abe owing to a lack of evidence as they said.

Opposition members, henceforth, may launch an investigation that could see Abe give sworn testimony in Parliament.

“Frankly speaking, the suspicions have deepened,” said Tetsuro Fukuyama, secretary-general of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan on Friday.

“Abe’s answer was insincere. The only thing we’ve been with is ‘his secretary did it and he didn’t know about it’. It’s extremely regrettable and totally unacceptable,” Fukuyama added.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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