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Lawmaker admits bribery, resigns from Osaka party

Mikio Shimoji has become the first Japanese lawmaker to admit receiving a bribe from Chinese lottery firm 500 Dot Com, and has applied to resign from the Japan Innovation Party, led by Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui, over his transgression.

In a press conference held in his Okinawa district, Shimoji acknowledged that he received 1 million yen (US$9,200) for his 2017 reelection campaign, explaining that he viewed it as a personal donation from 500 Dot Com advisor Masahiko Konno, not from the Chinese firm he represented.

In any case, Shimoji violated the Political Fund Control Law which both bans the receipt of political donations from foreign companies and individuals, and requires listing in official reports.

“I knew he was an advisor for a Chinese company, but it was a personal donation during an election, so I did not feel I was receiving money from a foreign company.”

Shimoji’s admission puts the five ruling party lawmakers who have so far denied receiving bribes in an even tougher spot, since the same sources investigators used to identify Shimoji as a bribe recipient also named them as well. Shimoji has now confirmed that cash money was indeed delivered.

Among the ruling party lawmakers denying the receipt of bribes are former state minister of the Cabinet Office Tsukasa Akimoto and former Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya.

Investigators now believe that Masahiko Konno illegally brought 22.5 million yen (about US$207,000) in cash from Hong Kong to Japan on September 28, 2017, and much of this money was used for bribing Japanese lawmakers.

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