Tokyo Prosecutors Seek Former PM Abe for Voluntary Questioning, NHK Says

Tokyo prosecutors are seeking former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to appear for voluntary questioning over campaign spending issues related to publicly financed cherry blossom-viewing parties, NHK reported.

Prosecutors have been looking into whether a secretary for Abe violated campaign financing laws through inappropriate disclosures of spending on dinner parties and other functions for supporters, the national public broadcaster reported Thursday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors said they wouldn’t comment on individual cases and Abe’s office said no one who could offer comment was immediately available. Abe, who stepped down in September for health reasons, has previously denied any wrongdoing over the blossom parties.

Abe Aides Questioned by Prosecutors on Parties, Yomiuri Reports

Last month, the Yomiuri newspaper reported that Abe’s aides were among those questioned by prosecutors over a series of parties organized during the past decade due to suspicions that they may have broken political-funding laws. Tokyo prosecutors have interviewed more than 20 people over the case, including two secretary-level officials in Abe’s office, according to the newspaper report, which cited unidentified people close to the matter.

Abe’s political funding organization staged the parties at a Tokyo hotel the night before an annual cherry-blossom viewing event every year from 2013 to 2019, the report said. Current Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who served as Abe’s right-hand man during his record-long stint as premier, has said he would cancel the annual cherry-blossom party.

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