In this Sept 16, 2020 file photo, then outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media upon his arrival at his office in Tokyo. (KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP)
TOKYO - Tokyo prosecutors are considering a summary indictment of two officials in former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's office for alleged violation of political funding laws, the daily Asahi reported on Friday.
Prosecutors believe the officials failed to report income and expenditures totalling some 30 million yen (US$289,000) related to cherry blossom viewing parties held for Abe supporters when he was in office, according to the Asahi report.
The Asahi reported that the two officials had admitted the illegality of the omission, which they told prosecutors was their own decision. Prosecutors decided to opt for a summary indictment given the admission of guilt and the amount of money not reported, Asahi reported
Under Japanese law, a summary indictment would mean the officials avoid a full court trial process. But the widely publicized case - which cast a shadow over Abe's final term - may also prove a headline for his successor, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who defended Abe in parliament over the issue as his right-hand man at the time.
The Asahi reported that the two officials had admitted the illegality of the omission, which they told prosecutors was their own decision. Prosecutors decided to opt for a summary indictment given the admission of guilt and the amount of money not reported, Asahi reported.
Abe's office didn't immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.
Local media reported earlier this week that Abe himself has been asked by Tokyo prosecutors to attend an interview for voluntary questioning. Abe said he "hadn't heard" about the request when asked for comment by reporters on Thursday, the daily Yomiuri reported.
The Asahi reported on Friday that prosecutors were likely to question the former prime minister after the extraordinary session of parliament ends on Dec 5.
Local media has reported, without identifying sources, that Abe's office covered a shortfall of about 8 million yen in party costs, included in the 30 million yen of unreported income and expenditure. Abe repeatedly denied that claim during parliamentary hearings during his tenure.
HONG KONG NEWS