NAGOYA (Kyodo) -- A former upper house lawmaker linked to the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has been arrested for allegedly defrauding Central Japan Railway Co. out of first-class shinkansen bullet train tickets by claiming to be an incumbent member of parliament.
Yasuo Yamashita, a company executive of Gifu Prefecture, central Japan, who had served as an advisor to the Gifu prefectural chapter of the CDPJ, admitted to the allegation, according to police.
In the wake of Sunday's arrest, the chapter removed Yamashita, 79, from the post and dismissed him from the party on Monday.
CDPJ President Kenta Izumi apologized to the public for the scandal.
"If it were true, his act will never be forgiven," Izumi said on Twitter. "I would like to extend a deep apology to the people."
According to the police, Yamashita allegedly received two Green Car tickets for the Tokyo-Nagoya section of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line after submitting a forged application form to a staff member at the JR Tokyo Station on April 27.
The police suspect that when Yamashita applied for the tickets, he may have shown the station staff an expired Japan Rail pass, which is free for Diet members, including access to the first-class Green Cars.
When JR Tokai, operator of the shinkansen line, tried to reach Yamashita for confirmation via the information he provided on the document, it reached another person, a Diet member, they said.
The police questioned Yamashita at Nagoya Station on Sunday, the date of his planned trip to Tokyo, and he was arrested later on suspicion of fraud and forgery of private documents.
After serving four terms from 1983 as a House of Representatives member from the now-defunct Japan Socialist Party, Yamashita was elected a House of Councillors member in 1998 on a now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan ticket.
After serving two terms in the upper chamber, he lost his seat in the 2010 election.