(Nikkei: January 26, 2016 – p. 4)
In connection of the allegations that Economic Revitalization Minister Akira Amari exchanged favors for money with a construction company in Chiba Prefecture, the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is stepping up criticism against Amari, focusing on whether he received bribes. As to the suspicions that his secretary acted as an intermediary, the DPJ will question sources familiar with the matter on Jan. 26. Although Amari plans to provide an explanation of the facts, the DPJ intends to pursue him, noting, “If he cannot establish accountability, he should step down from his post,” in the words of a senior DPJ member.
In a Diet room on Jan. 25, DPJ Deputy Secretary General Jun Azumi pressed Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Tsutomu Sato, arguing, “We want Mr. Amari to provide an explanation by Jan. 27. If he fails to do so, the Diet schedule will be seriously undermined.” Sato had no choice but to say, “I will make an effort.”
DPJ members will attend a plenary session of the House of Representatives to pursue the influence-peddling scandal, which will start from Jan. 26, without boycotting deliberations at interpellation in the lower chamber.
With regard also to the fact that the government and ruling coalition have asked for a reply to their request to be able to send Amari to the signing ceremony for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact to be held in New Zealand on Feb. 4, the DPJ has applied pressure by placing its answer on hold. (Abridged)