Japanese Kingpin's Deal Over Guilty Plea Criticized


Shin Kanemaru, the ruling party kingpin, submitted a written admission of guilt on Friday that will let prosecutors impose a summary conviction against him and fine him up to $1,600 for receiving a $4.1-million donation in violation of Japan's political contributions law.

The conviction will be the first time that any politician has been found guilty of violating the law, which forbids politicians to take any single donation exceeding $12,200.

The contributions law has long been cynically called "as watertight as a bamboo basket" for its widely recognized ineffectiveness. But Kanemaru's deal immediately brought protests of favoritism for the head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's largest faction.

Kanemaru submitted his written statement to prosecutors 29 days after publicly admitting that he took the illegal payment and resigning as vice president of the party. He had been Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa's major source of support.

In a written statement that Kanemaru's lawyer delivered to prosecutors, the 78-year-old powerbroker accepted full responsibility for accepting the donation in January, 1990, from Tokyo Sagawa Kyubin, a parcel delivery company.

"Even for a traffic accident, ordinary citizens cannot escape undergoing questioning by submitting a written statement," complained Tomoaki Iwai, a Tokiwa University professor. He said prosecutors had suffered "a great loss of prestige" by refusing to summon Kanemaru for questioning.

Opposition parties echoed the criticism of favoritism and said they would insist that Kanemaru be summoned to testify in Parliament when it reconvenes this fall.

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