July 8, 2020 / 8:28 AM / a month ago

Former Japanese justice minister, lawmaker wife indicted for suspected vote-buying

FILE PHOTO: Japan's Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai attends a news conference at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan September 11, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

(Reuters) - Former Japanese Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his lawmaker wife Anri were indicted on Wednesday on suspicion of vote-buying, following the couple’s arrest last month, Tokyo prosecutors said.

Their arrest and indictment are a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the premier struggles with falling public support. Katsuyuki Kawai had close ties to Abe and previously served as his foreign policy adviser.

Tokyo prosecutors said in a statement the couple had paid 1.7 million yen (£12,609.97) to five people last year to help Anri get an upper house seat, while separately Katsuyuki had paid a total 27.31 million yen (£202,575.46) to 103 people to help her get elected.

At the time of their arrests, Katsuyuki Kawai denied any wrongdoing while Anri Kawai declined comment on the advice of her lawyer.

Reporting by Chris Gallagher and Kiyoshi Takenaka

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