See More on Facebook

Opinion, Politics

Japan government’s response to paper scandal heightens distrust

A Yomiuri Shimbun editorial highlights the poor response by the Abe government to the charges of altering official papers.

Written by

Updated: March 21, 2018

The latest case involving alterations to official documents signifies a serious problem. The government must make efforts to uncover the whole truth of the matter with a sense of urgency, and fulfill its accountability in this respect.

Intensive discussions were held at a Budget Committee session at the House of Councillors over the issue concerning the alterations made by the Finance Ministry to documents regarding approval for the sale of state land to the Moritomo Gakuen school corporation.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered a renewed apology, saying, “This situation has shaken people’s trust in public administration as a whole.”

In his reply to a question before the Diet in February last year, the prime minister said that he would resign from his position if he and his wife, Akie, had been involved in the land deal in question. During the intensive deliberation, opposition parties pressed the prime minister for answers, insisting that the reply had served as a trigger for the alterations of the document.

The prime minister expressed his view that his own reply had no influence on the alterations. He also spoke about a statement in the documents that showed his wife had commented on the land sale, asking the school corporation to “move forward.” He explained that his wife had denied having made such a remark.

There were no statements in the pre-alteration documents that suggested the prime minister and his wife had been directly involved in the land deal. The prime minister should continue to carefully explain the matter.

Mitsuru Ota, director general of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Bureau, explained that the alterations were aimed at securing consistency in connection with replies given by Nobuhisa Sagawa when he had been serving as the bureau’s director general. “Mr. Sagawa was involved [in the alterations] to a great extent,” Ota said. However, he did not reveal the details of those circumstances, citing the ongoing probe into the matter as a reason for his refusal.

Government must be vigilant

An employee of the ministry’s Kinki Local Finance Bureau, who is believed to have committed suicide, left a note in which he insinuated the alterations had been made under directions issued by the ministry’s head office. The grounds for a reduction in the land price by about ¥800 million, over which the Board of Audit raised doubts earlier, are still ambiguous.

Who directed the alterations, and why? What was the reason for the price reduction? To uncover the truth, it is necessary to swiftly summon Sagawa to testify before the Diet.

Although the Finance Ministry released investigation results showing that 14 documents tied to the land sale’s approval had been altered, it was later found that portions of another document had also been deleted. The multiple faults committed by the ministry are too much to tolerate.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry notified the Prime Minister’s Office of the existence of the pre-alteration documents on March 5, and this information was conveyed to the prime minister on March 6. The Finance Ministry submitted copies of the altered documents to the Diet on March 8, and on March 12, the ministry finally acknowledged the fact that the documents had been altered.

Although it takes a certain amount of time to determine whether documents are truthful or false, the government’ handling was poor. It cannot escape from criticism that it has belittled the Diet, either. This could also deepen people’s distrust in the government.

The entire government should more seriously remain vigilant as it responds to the problem.

With priority placed on Diet deliberations, Finance Minister Taro Aso absented himself from a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 major economies in Argentina. It is necessary to prevent this issue from affecting state affairs as much as possible.

(This article originally appeared in the Yomiuri Shimbun)

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

ANN Members
About the Author: Asia News Network is a regional media alliance comprising 24 media entities.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Opinion, Politics

President Xi emphasizes role of Hong Kong, Macau

Both Hong Kong and Macao were told to integrate with nation’s overall development. President Xi Jinping underlined on Monday the unique and irreplaceable role of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions for China’s reform and opening-up in the new era. He also called on the two regions to better integrate themselves with the nation’s overall development. Xi’s remarks came as he met with a delegation of about 210 representatives from the two SARs who were in Beijing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up. The position and role of Hong Kong and Macao will only be strengthened rather than weakened, Xi said. The two regions should continue to play a leading role and enable more capital, technology and talent to take part in the country’s high-quality development and in the new round of high-level opening-up, he said. People of the two regions should continu

By China Daily
November 13, 2018

Opinion, Politics

Suu Kyi stripped of Amnesty honour

The Amnesty International has stripped Aung San Suu Kyi of its highest honour, the latest of several honours taken away from her since last year’s brutal military crackdown on the Rohingyas. This is the eighth honour that the former Nobel peace prizewinner has been stripped of over the past year, with Amnesty following the example of Canada, US Holocaust Museum, UK’s Edinburgh, Oxford, Glasgow and Newcastle and Canada’s Carleton Universities which also revoked Suu Kyi’s honorary degrees and awards. The long-celebrated Nobel Laureate was given Amnesty’s most prestigious honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2009 marking the 20th anniversary of her arrest and 20 years since it declared her a prisoner of conscience. The AI yesterday announced withdrawal of its highest honour fr

By Daily Star
November 13, 2018

Opinion, Politics

Date set for Bangladesh elections

Bangladesh will hold a parliamentary election on December 23 despite the failure of political parties to resolve major contentious issues over the polls. The country’s chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda said there was a “congenial atmosphere” to hold the polls and promised it will be free and fair. “We hope we will be able to hold a free, fair and acceptable election,” Huda said in a televised address. A day before, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wrapped up week-long talks between the ruling Awami League-led 14-party combine and at least 80 parties under the banners of different alliances. During the dialogue, Jatiya Oikyafront, an alliance of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and several other opposition parties, demanded for a dissolution of parliament before the polls and the creation of a caretaker government. The ruling party, however, rejected it over const

By Asia News Network
November 9, 2018

Opinion, Politics

Woman accused of blasphemy freed in Pakistan

Asia Bibi was initially found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death. After her release from Multan’s women prison in the light of the Oct 31 Supreme Court verdict overturning her conviction and death sentence, Asia Bibi was brought to Islamabad on board a special aircraft on Wednesday night, reliable sources told Dawn Newspaper. The aircraft carrying Aasia Bibi, whose acquittal of blasphemy charge sparked countrywide protests by religious parties and groups, landed at the old Benazir Bhutto International Airport of Islamabad adjacent to Nur Khan Air Base. Soon after her landing, she was taken to an undisclosed place in Islamabad amid tight security. The authorities were keeping her movement and whereabouts secret for security reasons. Authorities concerned were also tight-lipped about her future plan and it was unclear if she would be kept in Islamabad or would be allowed to fly out of the

By Dawn
November 8, 2018

Opinion, Politics

Goldman Sachs and 1MDB

The US Justice Department’s first charges against individuals related to the pillaging of the Malaysia investment fund known as 1MDB offers several new insights into the global, multibillion-dollar scandal. For­mer Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng has been arrested in Malaysia while his former colleague Tim Leissner pleaded guilty in New York over financial transactions related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). The United State’s Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged Leissner alongside fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low (pic), over funds misappropriated from 1MDB and paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials. The three-count indictment charges Low with misappropriating money from 1MDB and using it for bribes and kickbacks to foreign officials, to pay for luxury real estate, art and jewellery in the U

By The Star
November 2, 2018

Opinion, Politics

Imran Khan delivers warning to religious groups

Pakistan premier Imran Khan warns off religious group after supreme court rules on high profile blasphemy case. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday issued a stark warning to religiopolitical groups that have been agitating against the Supreme Court verdict to acquit Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death on charges of committing blasphemy. The premier addressed the matter in a short video message that solely focused on the Asia Bibi verdict and its aftermath. The message was broadcast on state-run PTV. He said he had been “compelled” to communicate with the nation due to the reaction given and language used by a “small segment” in response to the SC verdict. Pakistan was founded “in the name of Islam” and the verdict given by the SC is

By Dawn
November 1, 2018