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Japan: An elected official in the ruling party was arrested in a financial scandal

Japan: An elected official in the ruling party was arrested in a financial scandal

Japanese prosecutors arrested the first person on Sunday in connection with the financial fraud scandal that hit Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's party and forced him last month to replace four ministers, local media reported.

Yoshitaka Ikeda, elected to parliament from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (conservative right), is suspected of violating the law on controlling political funds, according to what was reported by several Japanese media outlets, including Jiji.

Japanese media said investigators suspect that Ikeda, 57, whose secretary was also arrested, received a total of 48 million yen (about $440,000) and failed to declare it.

In mid-December, Fumio Kishida was forced to replace four of his ministers in an attempt to extinguish the fire caused by a widespread financial fraud scandal within his party, which also weakened it.

Five deputy ministers and other officials affected by the scandal within Mr Kishida's PLD have also left.

Investigators then raided the offices of PLD factions, dozens of whose members were suspected, according to the Japanese press, of failing to declare the equivalent of several million dollars, raised through the sale of tickets to fundraising evenings which the party would then have received. I donated to them.

Kyodo quoted the party's Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi as saying that the Liberal Democratic Party decided to exclude Ikeda after his arrest.

The elected official arrested and the four ministers sacked last month belonged to the most powerful faction of the PLD, the faction led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in 2022.

According to local media, the Public Prosecution is investigating five of the party’s six factions.

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Even before this latest scandal, Kishida's popularity was already affected by other areas of discontent, including persistent inflation and the depreciation of the yen, which has weakened households' purchasing power despite the recent announcement of a massive new fiscal stimulus plan.