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Communications minister dines with NTT as hospitality scandal grows

  • March 17, 2021
  • , Kyodo News , 11:44 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO – Japan’s communications minister, who has been tight-lipped on whether he had wined and dined with executives of a Japanese telecom giant, was found to have dined with them last year, a weekly magazine reported online Wednesday.

 

In the latest development of a widening conflict of interest scandal involving his ministry and the titan, Shukan Bunshun reported that Ryota Takeda, whose ministry regulates the technology and communications sector, dined with officials of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. including President Jun Sawada, in November.

 

His action could be a violation of the National Public Service Ethics Law prohibiting central government officials from receiving favors from companies in sectors they regulate. Meals expected to cost more than 10,000 yen ($92) must also be declared beforehand.

 

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry and NTT have been recently hit by a hospitality scandal, reported by the same magazine, in which Sawada had treated senior officials of the ministry to lavish meals.

 

Following this, Takeda had repeatedly explained in parliament that he will not accept any invitations to “dinners or meetings which could raise suspicion among the public.”

 

In the wake of the latest report by the magazine, Takeda told people close to him that he just dropped by the gathering but that he did not dine with them, according to a source familiar with the matter.

 

Takeda’s office told Kyodo News it has not confirmed with him whether the report is true, while NTT said it is investigating the matter.

The gathering at a Japanese restaurant in a hotel in Tokyo on Nov. 11 was also joined by Yoshiyuki Kasai, chairman emeritus of Central Japan Railway Co., and Noriko Endo, an independent director of NTT Docomo Inc., according to the magazine.

 

JR Central said the dinner actually took place with Kasai present, and that the three exchanged opinions on space-related business.

At the time of the gathering, NTT’s tender offer to make NTT Docomo a wholly owned subsidiary was under way.

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