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APAC

No action against former PM Abe after prosecutor questioning - Kyodo

FILE PHOTO: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe holds a news conference on Japan's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tokyo, Japan May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool

TOKYO (Reuters) -Tokyo prosecutors do not plan to take action against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after he submitted to voluntary questioning in a case against his secretary over unreported political funds, Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday.

Abe, who stepped down citing ill health in September, is under fire on suspicion his office helped cover the costs of dinner parties for supporters, a possible violation of funding laws that he denied when questioned in parliament last year.

Prosecutors have been building a case against Abe’s secretary over unreported funds involving as much as 40 million yen ($386,922) and had asked Abe to appear for voluntary questioning about the issue, domestic media reported this month.

Tokyo prosecutors said they do not comment on investigations. Abe’s office declined to comment.

The issue risks hurting current Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who was Abe’s right-hand man during his 2012-2020 tenure and defended him in parliament.

Suga has seen his approval ratings tumble over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He drew fire for joining year-end social gatherings despite asking Japanese citizens to avoid such parties amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

($1 = 103.3800 yen)

Reporting by Chris Gallagher, Elaine Lies and Sam Nussey; Editing by David Dolan and Lincoln Feast.

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