The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office on Aug. 16 again decided against indicting two former secretaries of then economic revitalization minister Akira Amari, bringing the investigation into allegations that they illegally profited from using the politician’s influence to help a construction company to a close without it becoming a criminal case.
The secretaries were accused of violating the Act on Punishment of Public Officials’ Profiting by Exerting Influence. A violation of this law is recognized when a member of the National Diet or other such official is considered to have abused the influence of their position.
Tokyo’s fourth Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, which received an appeal against the prosecutors’ first decision not to indict, pointed to the possibility that, in addition to textbook cases like Diet members threatening to ask inconvenient questions of the administration in the Diet, the act can be considered violated depending on a Diet member’s position and the content of mediations they conduct. The committee then determined that the prosecution’s earlier decision not to indict the two former secretaries was inappropriate.
Following the committee’s decision, the special prosecution unit began investigating again, such as by interviewing relevant persons. While it recognized the committee’s argument that the content of mediations conducted by public officials could allow indictment under the act, they again decided against indictment, saying, “From an overall view of the case, there was not enough evidence to constitute (a violation of the act.)”
The committee also noted that the secretaries, when they visited the Urban Renaissance Agency without prior notice and checked on how it was negotiating compensation payments with a construction company, “were able to hold that meeting because they were secretaries of an influential minister.” The committee said that the around 13 million yen the secretaries received from the construction company appeared to have been payment for, among other things, negotiating an increase in the compensation payment made from the agency to that company. However, the special prosecution unit judged that these developments were not the result of the use of the politician’s influence.