Prosecutors charged the mother and sister of House of Representatives lawmaker Takeshi Tokuda with vote buying last Tuesday. 75-year old Hideko Tokuda and 46-year old Michiyo Stern, were charged with providing funds to campaigners in the 2012 elections while four other campaigners, Ichiro Ishikawa, Masahiko Okuda, Yasunari Tomita and Giichiro Oketani were charged for receiving the 60 million yen funds.
Takeshi’s father, Torao Tokuda, who is believed to have also been involved in the vote-buying has not been charged yet because of his poor health. While evidence points out to his involvement, his health is a major factor in the prosecutors reluctance to indict him yet as the founder and former chief of the Tokushukai hospital group is suffering from an incurable motor neuron disease. They however, will continue the investigation and questioning of Takeshi to find grounds to charge him, which could cost him his parliamentary seat should his family members receive prison terms without suspension. He has also since then resigned his seat from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
In the meantime, a former aide of Torao, 57-year old Katsuyuki Noso was charged with embezzlement of 30 million yen from the hospital group firm. Noso was dismissed from his post in Tokushukai in February and has provided the authorities with information on the hospital group’s alleged violation of election laws in December 2012. Prosecutors are also expected to start their investigation on Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose for his connection with the embattled hospital group, when he received 50 million yen which he claims was a loan and not election campaign donation. Inose has since resigned from his post due to pressure from the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly as well as the LDP.
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