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Senior LDP official talks about Moritomo scandal, preventing similar incidents

  • April 5, 2018
  • , Mainichi , p. 5
  • JMH Translation
  • ,

Interview with LDP Deputy Secretary General Koichi Hagiuda

By Akira Murao


Q: What do you think about the Finance Ministry’s alteration of documents on the approval of the land sale to Moritomo Gakuen?


Hagiuda: Honestly, I was shocked by it. Without the people’s trust, the administration cannot function. The first step to restoring trust is to find out the truth and make efforts to prevent similar incidents from occurring.


Q: Former National Tax Agency Commissioner Nobuhisa Sagawa’s testimonies in both houses of the Diet failed to clarify the whole truth.


Hagiuda: It had been anticipated that Sagawa might refuse to testify on the grounds that he might incriminate himself. Therefore, it is inappropriate to say that “suspicions have deepened.” I believe that even if he was unable to say who was responsible for the document tampering, he could have talked about why it was done. I guess his testimony that “there was no instruction or pressure from politicians” despite the risk of being charged with perjury must have been his last act of pride as a former bureaucrat. It is unthinkable that someone could have choreographed Sagawa’s testimony to protect the government. 


Q: Do you think it is necessary to summon Mrs. Akie Abe to testify?


Hagiuda: I think the Finance Ministry has finished its internal investigations. However, it will not be able to make an announcement without taking into account the penalization of ministry officials and the prosecutors’ investigations. I believe the whole truth will come out in the near future. If the opposition still thinks the investigations are inadequate, they can then make fresh demands at that point.


Q: What will you do to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future?


Hagiuda: The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has created a committee to study document management reform. The Komeito party has also formed a working team. The ruling parties will address this issue. We can start with thorough implementation of the new guidelines for document management by administrative bodies that came into force this month and further upgrading the “electronic approval system” that will enable the monitoring of document updates.


Q: Do you think it is necessary to amend the public document management law to impose penalties and introduce oversight by a third party body?


Hagiuda: Penalties can probably be introduced after observing how well the law is functioning for a while. It is also difficult for a third party organ to determine the validity of administrative documents and whether they have been revised. The important thing right now is for us to renew our awareness that if nothing is done about this situation, the administration and politicians will lose their credibility.


Q: How can the sagging cabinet support ratings be restored?


Hagiuda: It is necessary to restore trust as soon as possible, but there is no surefire remedy for this. We have absolutely no desire to deflect attention from this issue by grandstanding, so we will work steadily to produce results on each of the pledges we made in the House of Representatives election last year. We will humbly accept criticism against us as a ruling party. However, this is a critical juncture in terms of North Korea’s threat and the fact that the process of ending deflation is in its final phase. If [the Diet] refuses to deliberate other issues just because of the document alteration issue, not only the administration, but also the politicians will lose credibility.

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