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Ex-prosecutors oppose bill for extending retirement age

  • May 15, 2020
  • , Kyodo News , 0:56 a.m.
  • English Press

About a dozen former prosecutors are set to submit a letter expressing opposition to the planned extension of the retirement age for prosecutors by the Japanese government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe amid growing criticism from the public and opposition parties, sources close to the matter said Thursday.

 

Among members planning to submit the letter to the Justice Ministry in a rare move is former Attorney General Kunihiro Matsuo, who was involved in investigations into the Lockheed payout scandal that led to the arrest of former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in 1976.

 

The bill for amending the public prosecutor’s office law, which has been under deliberation in parliament since last month, calls for lifting the retirement age of prosecutors to 65 from 63, and allowing prosecution executives to stay until 66 upon the Cabinet’s approval beyond their retirement age of 63.

 

Likewise, the bill calls for allowing an extension of the attorney general’s retirement age, currently set at 65, to 68 at most if the Cabinet gives approval.

 

But critics say such changes could damage a fair judicial system by enabling the administration to decide which prosecutors can stay in office longer.

 

Bar associations across the country have opposed the changes, while Japanese celebrities have also taken to Twitter to express opposition, with many saying the government is trying to railroad the bill through at a time when it should focus on responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The number of tweets opposing the ruling coalition’s attempt to push the bill surpassed 650,000 as of early Friday.

 

Earlier this year, the Abe administration came under fire after it let Hiromu Kurokawa, widely believed to be favored by the prime minister’s office, remain as chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office after he turned 63.

 

The move spurred speculation the government is seeking to promote Kurokawa as a successor to Attorney General Nobuo Inada, who is likely to retire in July.

Meanwhile, investigative sources said Thursday that Kurokawa may have been the target of a blackmail attempt.

 

He received an envelope containing a letter and a utility knife blade on Wednesday afternoon. The letter made reference to a cronyism scandal involving Abe and a school operator, according to the sources.

 

The Cabinet endorsed the six-month extension of Kurokawa’s retirement age in January. The move deviated from the government’s past stance of considering prosecutors as not subject to the law on public servants, which allows for delaying retirement by up to one year.

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