FILE PHOTO: Japan’s new Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai arrives to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan September 11, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato
TOKYO (Reuters) – A former Japanese justice minister and his lawmaker wife were arrested on Thursday on suspicion of vote-buying, public broadcaster NHK reported, in a harsh blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he struggles with falling support rates.
Voter support for Abe, who had close ties to the ex-justice minister, has declined over what critics say is his clumsy handling of the coronavirus outbreak, a furore over efforts to extend top prosecutors’ retirement age, and questions about government programmes to support tourism and smaller companies.
Media have said that prosecutors suspect former justice minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his wife, upper house lawmaker Anri Kawai, of offering millions of yen in cash to about 100 people prior to the 2019 upper house election, in which Anri Kawai won a seat. Katsuyuki Kawai quit as minister last October after reports of election irregularities by his wife.
Reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim
Originally published on Reuters