Japanese local councilor allegedly asked friend to falsify estimate to embezzle political funds

Amagasaki Municipal Assemblyman Keisuke Mitsumoto is seen in this photo from April 8, 2021. (Mainichi/Kiyomasa Nakamura)

A member of the Amagasaki Municipal Assembly in Hyogo Prefecture allegedly asked an acquaintance operating an electrical appliance store to create a fictitious price estimate via the free messaging app Line, sources familiar with the matter have revealed. at Mainichi Shimbun.

The revelation comes after MP Keisuke Mitsumoto, 42, was expelled from the Hyogo Ishin no Kai, a regional branch of the conservative national opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), for making vouchers. delivery for items he purchased using the activity expense policy. .

The Amagasaki Municipal Assembly is investigating the cases, alleging that Mitsumoto repeatedly mishandled funds for political activities.

The making of delivery slips surfaced during a town assembly session in June. Mitsumoto, who is in his third term, withdrew some 760,000 yen (about $5,600) in September 2021 from an account used by the Assembly faction to which he belonged to manage spending on political activities, in claiming he purchased computers and other items from a major home appliance retailer.

While Mitsumoto had submitted delivery slips of computers and other items to the Municipal Assembly Secretariat as documents proving the use of funds from political activities, it emerged through his faction’s investigation of assembly that the delivery slips had been falsified. Mitsumoto explained at the time, “I had lost the receipts, so I cut and pasted computer data and paper” and “I thought it would be nice if I replaced them later,” claiming that the purchase itself was true.

Additionally, it emerged that Mitsumoto withdrew 750,000 yen (about $5,500) from the account in June 2021 without undergoing accounting procedures, and repaid the same amount nine months later. Regarding this case, Mitsumoto said, “I had paid cash in advance to an electrical appliance store (to purchase computers and other items), but the store could not provide the items. , so I canceled the contract. As the store forgot about the case, refunds were delayed.”

However, his acquaintance who ran the home appliance store told the assembly faction’s investigation that they had in fact not received any money from Mitsumoto. The store owner also revealed that Mitsumoto asked them via Line to create a fake price estimate on May 31 this year.

The City Assembly Secretariat deemed the series of cash withdrawals suspicious and demanded that Mitsumoto submit related documents. The fictitious price estimate was among the documents submitted. It is suspected that Mitsumoto tried to use the false estimate to justify his cash withdrawal.

The Hyogo Ishin no Kai ousted Mitsumoto on June 17, and the city assembly unanimously passed a resolution demanding that he step down on June 28.

When contacted by the Mainichi Shimbun, an attorney representing Mitsumoto declined to comment on the case, stating via email, “I will refrain from answering individual questions.”

(Japanese original by Sanae Kameda, Hanshin Bureau, and Atsuko Nakata, Kobe Bureau)