Ex-PM Abe accused over free alcohol offered by beverage firm

A citizens' group has filed a criminal complaint against former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and three others over free alcoholic drinks offered by a major beverage company to parties held by Abe's political support association.

The group filed the criminal complaint with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office on Friday. One of the three accused is a former state-paid secretary to Abe.

The group says that Suntory Holdings offered beer and other beverage products to parties held at a hotel for Abe's supporters on the eve of government-sponsored cherry blossom-viewing gatherings in Tokyo.

It also says that free alcohol worth about 150,000 yen, or roughly 1,100 dollars, was provided every year for three years through 2019.

The group alleges that Abe's support body failed to report it as a donation in political fund reports, in violation of the political funds control law.

Suntory Holdings officials said that they offered the company's products free of charge as they saw the event as a good chance to promote their products.

The civic group's co-leader, Iwata Kaoru, said that citizens want prosecutors to investigate the case, which is drawing much attention.

Abe's office said that it had been cooperating with investigative authorities in a sincere manner, and that the office has made necessary corrections to entries in the financial report based on the prosecutors' decisions.

In 2020, the prosecutors accused Abe's former secretary of failing to declare about 240,000 dollars in reports detailing expenses and revenues related to the parties. The case was concluded when he paid a fine without any arrest or trial.