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Japanese Parliamentarian Arrested

September 4, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Opposition lawmaker Joji Yamamoto and an aide were arrested Monday on charges of colluding to misappropriate public funds for personal use, the Tokyo Public Prosecutor’s Office said.

Yamamoto and Akinori Imai are accused of colluding to bilk the government out of about $220,000 in salary payments to a fictitious aide, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Prosecutors allege that Yamamoto, 37, informed the House of Representatives that he had hired an aide when in fact he had not.

Yamamoto then allegedly had the government automatically transfer salary payments for the fictitious aide to an account that he and Imai controlled.

Prosecutors are also questioning Yamamoto on suspicion that he misappropriated $84,000 of another secretary’s salary, Kyodo News Agency reported, citing investigators.

Yamamoto is suspected of using the money to pay his office rent and for political activities, Kyodo said.

Officials of the prosecutor’s office were not available for comment Monday night.

Yamamoto, from Tachikawa city in suburban Tokyo, is serving his second term in Parliament as a member of the Democratic Party, Japan’s biggest opposition party.

He is the second politician in three months to be arrested.

In June, ruling-party politician Eiichi Nakao was arrested on suspicion of accepting $279,000 in bribes from a Tokyo-based builder.

Nakao, 70, is suspected of receiving a payoff from the construction firm in exchange for help in bidding for a lucrative public-works project while construction minister from January to November 1996.

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