A short-lived former justice minister in Japan was sentenced to three years in prison on Friday for buying votes to get his wife elected to the Senate, local media reported.
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Katsuyuki Kawai, 58, was found guilty of distributing 29 million yen (221,000 euros at the current rate) to nearly a hundred local politicians in 2019 to secure a seat in the Senate for his wife Anri. In addition to his prison sentence, he was fined 1.3 million yen (nearly 10,000 euros), according to the Japanese media. Asked by AFP, the Tokyo court declined to comment on the outcome of the trial.
Caught up in another scandal, Katsuyuki Kawai resigned at the end of October 2019 from his post as Minister of Justice, which he had held for just a few weeks in the government of Shinzo Abe, of which he was close. He was arrested and charged a year ago with his wife in the vote buying affair. After denying the facts, he finally admitted the charges against him during his trial and ended up resigning from his post as an MP. Although he has generally admitted the charges against him, Katsuyuki Kawai will appeal his conviction, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun, his lawyers having pleaded for a suspended sentence. His wife Anri was also sentenced at the beginning of the year to a suspended sentence of 16 months,and she had to give up her post as senator of the Hiroshima (west) department soon after.
The Kawai couple's affair had been added to a long list of corruption scandals splashing around Shinzo Abe's relatives during his second term as Prime Minister (2012-2020), without however really threatening him politically. Shinzo Abe ended up leaving power in September 2020, but for health reasons. His former close associate, Yoshihide Suga, succeeded him.