Former Vice Minister of Justice Kakizawa Mito’s trial reveals how he uses his slush fund. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Former Vice Minister of Justice Kakizawa Mito’s trial reveals how he uses his slush fund.

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Mr. Kakizawa at his first trial.

I don’t dispute everything.

Mizu Kakizawa, 53, former vice minister of justice, admitted the charges in a muffled voice through a mask. He was arrested on December 28 last year and spent the year-end and New Year’s holidays in jail, where he appeared to have lost some weight. His hair, which had been slicked back, was now down in front of him, and he was wearing no tie, a complete change from the lively impression he had given when he was a member of the House of Representatives.

On February 14, at his first trial on charges of violating the Public Election Law in connection with the Koto Ward Mayor election last April, Kakizawa apologized, saying, “Many people were involved, and my responsibility is heavy. After apologizing, he stated, “I have decided not to contest any of the facts of the prosecution.

On the other hand, when questioned by the prosecutors, he repeatedly said, “I will refrain from answering,” dozens of times, effectively keeping silent. When asked about the genesis of the case and how it came about, he repeatedly said, “I refrain from answering.” At one point, the prosecutor intensified his tone, saying, “If you admit responsibility, you should tell us from your own mouth.

The prosecutor referred to the feud between former Koto Ward Mayor Takaaki Yamazaki and his eldest son, Kazuki, 51, a former Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member, who share the same Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) but are at odds with each other in Koto Ward.

Yamazaki passed away suddenly at the age of 79, four days before the election, but he was a big name mayor who served four terms and was a close friend of Shigeru Uchida, former secretary-general of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly and boasted of his strong influence. Kakizawa’s father, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Koji Kakizawa, was also a strong supporter of Kakizawa’s father in Tokyo’s 15th district, which encompasses all of Koto Ward, and as a member of the opposition Diet, Kakizawa was elected several times while opposing Yamazaki and his son, backed by his strong support group from previous generations. What complicated matters was Kakizawa’s joining the LDP,” said an official with the Tokyo Metropolitan Federation of the Liberal Democratic Party.

In the 2009 lower house election, the party headquarters endorsed both Kakizawa and another candidate. This was unusual, but it was a sign that the party would “officially recognize the one who won. When Kakizawa won the conservative split election and was elected for the fifth time, he was additionally endorsed by the LDP after his election.

However, due to resistance from Yamazaki and his son, Kakizawa was unable to join the LDP’s Tokyo Metropolitan Federation and was placed in the custody of the Yamagata Prefectural Federation, and he was unable to serve as a party-certified candidate for more than a year. Amidst deepening conflict with Yamazaki and his son, he was elected ward mayor in April of last year.

By electing former ward mayor Yayoi Kimura (58), Kakizawa hoped to reduce the influence of the Yamazaki family and solidify his own position in the district.

At the trial, it was revealed that Kakizawa took the initiative in requesting Kimura’s candidacy, and in planning his campaign strategy and policies. Kakizawa also corrected the draft of Kimura’s speech at his runoff press conference. A ward assemblyman who had served Kimura since his father’s time was placed at the center of the Kimura campaign headquarters, and four of his own secretaries were dispatched to the campaign. It was also revealed that Kimura had been running a “Kakizawa-produced” campaign.

As part of his efforts to gain ground, Kakizawa decided to give 200,000 yen in cash each to 12 LDP-certified candidates, including ward assembly members and former ward assembly members who were preparing for the election, as a “campaign visit,” and instructed his secretaries to do the same. Seven of them refused to accept the money, but five of them did. Seven refused to accept the money, but five received it. Two of them returned the money by March. The remaining three were indicted at home for bribery.

The issue of “politics and money,” which has been a hot topic in the current Diet session, came to light in this courtroom in a different form.

Restoring trust in politics” is a phrase we have heard many times since the end of last year, but this trial also revealed the lax perception of money among local lawmakers, as Diet members sought their own support in return for cash.

A member of the House of Representatives, who is based in the Kansai region, added, “The party has asked me to become a branch manager of a political party.

Whenever the party’s activity fund is paid to the political party branch of which I am the branch head, the local lawmakers immediately ask me to return the money to them, saying, ‘We are making you wear the badge. I would return the money to the local assemblyman’s political organization and get a receipt, but more than once or twice I was implicitly asked for back taxes, saying, ‘Give us more or you will fail in the election.

In the Niigata 5th Constituency lower house election in 2009, Hirohiko Izumida, 61, was asked by a man who appeared to be Isao Hoshino, 84, a former prefectural assembly member, to give him a receipt for a tax refund. If you waste 20 or 30 million yen, it will be the end of your life.

When asked in the Diet about the use of the slush fund, he would never be able to say, ‘I gave it to a local councilor.

In Tokyo’s 15th ward, scandals continue to unfold. Former LDP House of Representatives member Tsukasa Akimoto, 52, was arrested for bribery and violating the Organized Crime Punishment Law in connection with an integrated resort facility (IR) project that includes casinos, and his seat was vacated. The post of branch head is now vacant after Kakizawa was arrested for violating the Public Election Law.

In this unusual situation, the selection of a candidate for the April by-election has not progressed. The party headquarters is likely to throw the decision to the Tokyo Metropolitan Federation (TMF) and conduct a public canvass, said the aforementioned TMF official, raising an eyebrow.

In Tokyo, the Metropolitan Police Department keeps a very close watch on elections, so elections cannot be held like in the Showa period. However, the 15th district remained a single Koto constituency for a long time even after the introduction of the primary election system, and there was even a conservative split in the district. Even though there are several towers in Toyosu and Ariake, the election campaign reminds me of the Showa period.”

Last November, Kakizawa sent a letter to 300 supporters claiming that he was complying with the Public Election Law, saying that the cash was a campaign contribution to support the Koto Ward assembly election and had nothing to do with the ward mayor election.

However, after his arrest and detention, he turned around and admitted to the bribe, as noted at the beginning of this report. The trial was conducted in a “hundred-day trial” to expedite the proceedings, and a verdict is expected on March 14.

A supporter of Mr. Kakizawa predicted his future with a sigh.

He will not be able to run for office for three years, but after that he will be able to. Rather than fight in court for more than a decade on the presumption of innocence, he will quickly admit to the charges, and then he will be able to run for office after the three years.

When he lost his job due to a drunken driving scandal when he was a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, he revived his career by shaving his head and going door to door to his supporters’ houses. If he takes care of his secretary this time as well and apologizes, his old supporters may forgive him.

Politicians who continue to follow the customs of the Showa period and such soil should be renewed.

Kakizawa appointed as Deputy Minister of Justice (from Kakizawa’s SNS)
  • Reporting and writing Daisuke Iwasaki PHOTO Kyodo News

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