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Kobe city councilor linked to Eriko Imai denies misappropriation of public funds

Shukan Shincho Aug. 31
Shukan Shincho Aug. 31

TOKYO (TR) – A city councilor romantically linked to idol-turned-lawmaker Eriko Imai has denied wrongdoing regarding a report in a weekly magazine that says he misappropriated more 700 million yen in public funds.

According to the August 31 issue of Shukan Shincho, which hit newsstands on Thursday, Ken Hashimoto, a 37-year-old councilor for the city of Kobe, used 720 million yen in public funds for the printing of circulars that never materialized.

“There were no fake orders,” the councilor said at a press conference on Wednesday. However, the councilor was unable to provide sufficient evidence to back up his claim, only saying that the design and printing companies commissioned for the work “exist.”

According to the magazine, a total of about 560,000 copies of “Hashiken Tsushin” were supposed to have been printed and distributed on eight occasions over a five-year period starting in 2010. Samples of the issues were presented to the Kobe assembly. However, the documents were never printed.

Extra-marital affair

In an issue of Shincho released last month, the magazine linked Hashimoto, who is married, to Imai, a former member of pop group Speed. In July of last year, Imai, a native of Okinawa Prefecture, won an upper house seat as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party.