Police arrest opposition lawmaker in Japan

Authorities on Monday arrested a lawmaker of Japan's largest opposition party for allegedly allowing an unqualified employee to perform legal work on his behalf while taking cut of his fees, according to police and news reports. Investigators suspect that Shingo Nishimura, 57, of the Democratic Party of Japan, allowed Koji Suzuki, who was not a lawyer, to use his lawyer's seal to verify out-of-court settlements in dozens of cases including insurance claims and traffic accidents, public broadcaster NHK and the Kyodo News agency reported.

An Osaka prefectural police spokesman only confirmed Nishimura's arrest over the suspected violation of the Attorney Law, refused to provide other details. He spoke on condition of anonymity citing internal policy.

Nishuimura not only purportedly turned a blind eye to this violation of the Attorney's law, but also took a cut of Suzuki's illegally earned consultation fees as much as 30 million yen (US$252,000; Ђ215,400), NHK said.

Suzuki, who worked at Nishimura's law firm in 1998, was arrested last week and the agencies reported that Nishimura admitted to the name-lending allegations.

Investigators from the Osaka prefectural (state) police and prosecutors office raided Nishimura's office and residence in Osaka on Monday, Kyodo News agency and NHK reported.

Senior leaders of the Democratic Party are currently meeting to discuss whether to strip Nishimura of his party membership, party spokesman Kenji Ozeki said.

A former lawyer, Nishimura is serving his fifth term in the powerful lower house. He actively supports the families of Japanese abducted by North Korea decades ago, reports the AP. I.L.

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