Paperwork present that Japan’s ex-Prime Minister Abe’s camp sponsored help social gathering – NHK

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© Reuters. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian attends a press conference in Beijing

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TOKYO (Reuters) – According to hotel records, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s camp paid part of the cost of a dinner party held for its supporters the night before an annual cherry blossom party, NHK public television said on Monday, citing on unnamed sources with.

Politicians in Japan are strictly prohibited from giving anything that could be construed as a gift to constituents. The rule is so strict that a cabinet minister resigned in 2014 after handing out paper fans in the summer.

In May, about 660 lawyers and academics filed a complaint with Tokyo prosecutors to investigate whether Abe and two leaders of his political support group had violated campaigning and funding laws by subsidizing supporters’ participation in the reception in 2018, reported the Kyodo news agency.

Abe has denied any wrongdoing.

According to the NHK, Tokyo prosecutors had voluntarily interviewed one of Abe’s aides and a few others as part of their investigation.

Reuters’ calls to Abe’s offices in Tokyo and his Shimonoseki constituency in western Japan went unanswered on Monday, a public holiday in Japan.

But Kyodo News Agency said Abe’s office issued a statement saying it was cooperating with the prosecutor’s investigation.

No one was immediately available for comment at the Tokyo District Prosecutor’s Office or at Hotel New Otani, where the reception was held in 2018.

Attendees each paid an entrance fee of 5,000 yen (US $ 48) to the annual party, but opposition lawmakers said the entrance fee was much lower than other receptions at the upscale hotel.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, resigned in September on health grounds but remained in the lower house as legislature.

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