Japan prosecutors seek to question ex-PM Shinzo Abe on spending scandal

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe weathered several scandals while in office, including over the cherry blossom parties. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 03 December 2020

Japan prosecutors seek to question ex-PM Shinzo Abe on spending scandal

  • Under Japanese law, spending on political events must be reported
  • Former prime minister Shinzo Abe has already denied any wrongdoing

TOKYO: Japanese prosecutors are seeking to question former prime minister Shinzo Abe over a scandal involving the cost of events held for his supporters, local media said Thursday.
Under Japanese law, spending on political events must be reported, but prosecutors allege that Abe’s office failed to do so for dinners his political group organized on the eve of government-sponsored cherry blossom viewing parties.
Public broadcaster NHK said the group paid more than $76,000 for the events over five years until 2019.
The Tokyo Prosecutors Office, which declined to comment on the story, has already questioned Abe’s secretaries for allegedly failing to properly report the cost of the dinners.
NHK and Jiji Press agency said prosecutors wanted to question Abe about his knowledge of the payments.
Abe, who has not yet responded to the prosecutors’ request, has already denied any wrongdoing, saying guests, including voters in his constituency, attended at their own expense.
Abe resigned in September over health issues after becoming the country’s longest-serving premier.
He weathered several scandals while in office, including over the cherry blossom parties, a decades-old tradition intended to honor the great and good for their achievements.
Abe’s government was accused of stacking the event with supporters, and even inviting a member of Japan’s infamous Yakuza mafia.
When the opposition demanded a guest list be produced, it emerged the list had been shredded.
While the government denied wrongdoing, Abe’s successor Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said he will not hold the event next year.


‘Disturbing’ allegations of rape in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: UN

Updated 22 January 2021

‘Disturbing’ allegations of rape in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: UN

  • A UN representative said she was greatly concerned by serious allegations from the northern region

ADDIS ABABA: The UN says it has received “disturbing” reports of sexual violence and abuse in Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray region, including of individuals forced to rape members of their own family.
Pramila Patten, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, said she was greatly concerned by serious allegations from the northern region, including “a high number of alleged rapes” in the Tigrayan capital Mekele.
“There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence,” Patten said in a statement Thursday.
“Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.”
Patten called on all parties involved in the hostilities to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, announced military operations in Tigray in early November, saying they came in response to attacks by the regional ruling party on federal army camps.
Abiy declared victory after federal forces entered the regional capital in late November, though leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) remain on the run and have vowed to fight on.
Thousands have died in the conflict, according to the International Crisis Group, though a communications blackout and media and humanitarian access restrictions have made it difficult to assess the situation on the ground.
In her statement Thursday, Patten noted that “medical centers have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict.”
She called for full humanitarian access to Tigray, including camps for displaced people “and refugee camps where new arrivals have allegedly reported cases of sexual violence.”
She voiced concern about “more than 5,000 Eritrean refugees in and around the area of Shire living in dire conditions, many of them reportedly sleeping in an open field with no water or food, as well as the more than 59,000 Ethiopians who have fled the country into neighboring Sudan.”
The caretaker administration in Tigray did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this month state television broadcast footage of a meeting during which an unidentified man in a military uniform expressed concern about rapes in Mekele.
“Why are women being raped in Mekele city?” the man said.
“It wouldn’t be shocking had it been happening during the war, because it is not manageable so it could be expected. But at this moment while federal police and local police are back in town, it is still happening.”