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POLITICS

Records of scandal-tainted “Moritomo Gakuen” could be restored

  • September 22, 2017
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

Electronic data that may contain records of negotiations between the Finance Ministry and scandal-tainted Moritomo Gakuen school (Osaka City) has been preserved, Tokyo Shimbun learned from the ministry. The ministry and the school negotiated over the sale of government-owned land. The computer contractor that had a contract with the ministry was required to “irreversibly destroy hard discs by the end of July,” but the ministry, despite the contract requirements, ordered the contractor to postpone the destruction beyond July.

 

Demand for information disclosure will become inevitable

 

The latest development means the ministry has borne in mind restoring the data in question, which will inevitably invite calls for disclosing the information.

 

At a session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee held in February this year, then Director-General of the Financial Bureau Nobuhisa Sagawa [of the ministry] said regarding the electronic data in question, “No records of the negotiations remain after the conclusion of the sale contract with the school.” Sagawa is currently National Tax Agency Commissioner. At that time, opposition parties and a non-profit organization calling for information disclosure argued that “it is technically possible to restore the data.”

 

The records of the negotiations might still be preserved in discs of personal computers used by the ministry personnel, data servers used for information management, and discs connected to servers used for transmitting emails with documents attached. These devices were used throughout the period during which the ministry and Moritomo Gakuen negotiated over the land sale.

 

According to the ministry, the contract for these devices expired at the end of May after a four-year lease contract. The ministry has already been working on a new system. Under the old contract with NEC Corporation that provided the devices, the company was required to irreversibly destroy data used during the negotiations in question by the end of July by punching holes on discs and overwriting existing data with meaningless data.

 

However, the ministry instructed the NEC to postpone the deadline for the data destruction. In response to Tokyo Shimbun’s inquiry, the ministry replied: “In view of the ongoing investigations into the matter by relevant organizations, the period for removing equipment and destroying data has been extended, which will be subject to change, depending on the progress of the investigations.”

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