CHIBA (TR) – Chiba Prefectural Police on Sunday arrested the head of a large organized crime group for holding an event to garner support of a prefectural assembly candidate prior to the official start of campaign-related activities, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (June 7).
Police accused Isao Seki, the 69-year-old head of the Sumiyoshi-kai, construction executive Hiroyoshi Iizuka, 68, and one other suspect of holding a meeting for supporters and voters of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Masakazu Koji, 47, at a “snack” hostess club in Isumi City in early March.
According to the Public Office Election Law, campaigning extends for a 12-day period prior to the poll. The Chiba Prefectural Assembly election, in which Koji was victorious in the Isumi precinct, took place on April 12.
The three suspects have reportedly denied violating the election law, according to Sankei Sports (June 8).
When contacted for comment by the Yomiuri outside his residence, Koji said that he did not recall the matter. “There must be some kind of mistake,” the politician said.
Guests at the event were charged 3,000 yen each for food, beer and karaoke. The total bill was paid by Seki.
Hozumi Hamada, the chief secretary of the LDP’s Chiba chapter, said that the incident is regrettable. “In determining how to deal with this matter I want to first confirm the facts of the case,” the lawmaker said.
The Tokyo-based Sumiyoshi-kai is Japan’s second largest gang. Its total membership of 8,500 is smaller than only that of the Yamaguchi-gumi (23,400), whose headquarters is in Kobe, according to the National Police Agency.