Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has resigned for health reasons, has feted influential supporters at dinners at taxpayers’ expense as prime minister, sources close to Abe said.
If the allegations are right, it is a violation of the Japanese election and campaign finance law.
The scandal may harm not only Abe’s political reputation but also that of current Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Abe’s right-hand man when he was Prime Minister.
Politicians in Japan are not allowed to offer gifts to voters. The legislation on this is so strict that a minister resigned in 2014 after handing out paper fans in the summer.
Last year, Abe firmly denied in parliament that he used government money to pay for parties. The opposition then put him to the test.
He told reporters on Tuesday that he is aware of the allegations and that he will “cooperate fully” in the Tokyo prosecution’s investigation. Abe declined to comment further.
Prosecutors are currently reviewing documents from the hotels suggesting that Abe’s office helped pay for the receptions. Some former employees of Abe were also questioned.