A Japanese lower house lawmaker was indicted Wednesday for receiving bribes from a wind power firm in exchange for exercising his influence in favor of the company, prosecutors said.
Masatoshi Akimoto, 48, who left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party after the incident came to light, was secretary general of an LDP parliamentary association for promotion of renewable energies. He advocated the enactment of a law on utilizing sea areas for renewable power generation that came into force in April 2019.
According to the indictment, Akimoto received a total of 70 million yen ($470,000) from Masayuki Tsukawaki, 64-year-old former president of Japan Wind Development Co., which was bidding for offshore wind power projects in Aomori Prefecture, in return for asking certain questions at the Diet.
Prosecutors on the same day indicted Tsukawaki without detaining him for giving bribes to Akimoto.
Akimoto made requests in parliament, such as for not imposing excessively strict regulations in waters off the northeastern Japan prefecture.
Separately, prosecutors also indicted Akimoto for his involvement in a 2 million yen fraud over COVID-19 financial relief for businesses.
Akimoto has denied the bribery and fraud charges, but Tsukawaki has told investigators money was given to him as a reward for his actions in the Diet.
The crime of accepting bribes in exchange of exercising influence carries a prison term of up to seven years, as against up to five years for the crime of simply receiving bribes.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigation squad searched Akimoto's office and the headquarters of Japan Wind Development in August before arresting Akimoto on Sept. 7.