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Japanese LDP lawmaker implicated in election campaign bribery coverup
January 17,2020   By:Xinhua
Jan.17,2020--  Japanese lawmaker Anri Kawai's election campaign office is suspected of trying to conceal payments made to staff members during her upper house election campaign last summer that were illegally high, sources close to the matter said Thursday.
 
Kawai, 46, wife of former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai, won a seat for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in last July's upper house election.
 
Her office however may have tried to hide illegally high payments made to staff during the campaign by splitting the amounts over two receipts, the sources said.
 
Her office is suspected of paying staff members double the legal amount, with daily allowance payments made to a group of staff members campaigning on her behalf totaling 30,000 yen (273 U.S. dollars).
 
The payments may be in violation of Japan's election law and could be considered a form of bribery, the sources said.
 
In a bid to conceal the potentially illegal payments, Kawai's campaign office is suspected of producing separate receipts to be signed by the staff members, to make it look as though the payments were below the legal threshold of a 15,000-yen daily allowance.
 
Prosecutors searched her offices and those of her husband on Wednesday.
 
Investigations are continuing to find out who instructed the receipts for the payments to be divided, with some of the campaign staffers having already admitted to prosecutors of their own volition that they had received 30,000 yen per day for their campaign work.
 
After the Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine first reported about the scandal, then Justice Minister Kawai resigned last October.
 
The pair, however, have both said they would not step down as lawmakers or LDP members.
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