On October 6, the Tokyo District Court convicted a former senior Akita Foods Co. official of corruption and gave him a suspended sentence in a scandal that involved a former agriculture minister.
Yoshiki Akita, 87, was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison, suspended for four years.
Prosecutors had requested a 20-month prison sentence.
According to court documents, Akita handed a total of 5 million yen ($ 44,750) to Takamori Yoshikawa, 70, former agriculture minister, in three meetings at a hotel and the minister’s office in Tokyo in November. 2018 to August 2019.
Akita’s old business is a major egg producer in Hiroshima Prefecture. He asked Yoshikawa to help the poultry industry by making sure the Japanese government opposes an international organization’s proposal to improve animal welfare standards to reduce stress on livestock.
Akita also asked Yoshikawa to make it easier for poultry farmers to receive loans from Japan Finance Corp.
Prosecutors said in argument that Akita tried to influence important policies regarding agriculture, forestry and fisheries by bribing Yoshikawa.
Akita had given Yoshikawa money even before Yoshikawa became Minister of the Farm. This made Yoshikawa less hesitant to receive bribes, and Akita took advantage of it, they said.
Akita’s defense attorneys said in argument that the money was for “industry, not personal greed.”
Akita had a relationship with Yoshikawa before he became agriculture minister and met with him for lobbying and advisory purposes, they said.
“It is difficult to say that there was a noticeable degree of wrongfulness,” they said.
Yoshikawa admitted to receiving a total of 18 million yen, including 5 million yen, from Akita in his own trial. But he denied receiving bribes.
“I understood that (the money) was a political donation,” Yoshikawa said.
(This article was written by Yuji Harada and Kazufumi Kaneko.)