Three ruling parties railroad through supplementary budget in Diet Committee

Ignoring the opposition parties' request that the government clarify the exclusion of NGOs from a recent Tokyo conference on Afghanistan, the three ruling parties rushed to railroad through the fiscal 2002 supplementary budget in the House of Representatives Budget Committee on January 28.

Opposition parties demanded that the government give its view on the allegation that Lower House Rules and Administration Committee Chair Suzuki Muneo pressed the Foreign Ministry to bar two NGOs from the international conference.

Foreign Minister Tanaka Makiko and the ministry's high officials gave conflicting accounts, halting the committee discussion again.

Tanaka insisted that Suzuki put pressure on the Foreign Ministry. Shigeie Toshinori, Middle East and African Affairs Bureau director, repeatedly denied Suzuki's involvement, but later confessed that what Tanaka said was true.

Vice Foreign Minister Nogami Yoshiji said that what Tanaka stated was not true, to which Tanaka refuted by showing her notes from her phone conversations.

At a news conference, Japanese Communist Party Acting Secretariat Head Fudesaka Hideyo said the government can't deny Suzuki's involvement in the affair and criticized the government for continuing to conceal the fact.

"False statements and lies must be expelled from the Diet," he emphasized. (end)