LDP Dietmember Suzuki's interference with government foreign aid exposed

The House of Representatives Budget Committee on February 20 held a special discussion on two major issues involving the Foreign Ministry: the allegation that Liberal Democratic Party Dietmember Suzuki Muneo has interfered with Japan's diplomacy and the dismissal of former Foreign Minister Tanaka Makiko. In the morning session, committee members questioned the two persons concerned.

LDP Suzuki's interference

Questioning on behalf of the Japanese Communist Party, Sasaki Kebsho took up the allegation of Suzuki's interference in the foreign ministry business related to its assistance to the so-called "Four Northern Islands" - now occupied by Russia - in particular in connection with the construction of a house to be used as shelter and accommodation on Kunashiri Island, which later was called the "Muneo House."

Based on a classified foreign ministry document he obtained, Sasaki pointed out that Suzuki interfered with the ministry's announcement of a bid for the shelter/accommodation construction by demanding that bidders should be limited to mid-sized contractors in the Nemuro district, not Hokkaido-wide. Suzuki is a Lower House member from the constituency that includes Nemuro, and there is only one such firm in Nemuro.

Sasaki also revealed that the successful bidder, Watanabe Construction Co., a major donor to Suzuki, contributed 7.88 million yen (130 yen = 1 dollar) to Suzuki.

This shows that Suzuki used government foreign assistance to receive tax money in political donations, Sasaki stressed.

Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro said he would take steps to investigate into the allegation of Suzuki's interference.

'Koizumi is wrong,' says former minister Tanaka

Former Foreign Minister Tanaka, who was dismissed by Prime Minister Koizumi over LDP Suzuki's role in excluding Japanese NGOs' from an international Afghan assistance conference, surprised everyone by outspoken criticism of Prime Minister Koizumi.

Tanaka said, "He (the prime minister) maintains an old way of thinking. Though he sometimes sets out new ideas, he cannot get free from such thinking. So he at last crossed the line to join with the anti-'reform' forces within the LDP."

"The prime minister encouraged me to 'do whatever you want to,' but once I took a step for reform, someone was interrupting me by stepping on the hem of my skirt. It was nobody else but the prime minister himself," she added.

The former minister also testified that the Foreign Ministry's personnel issue has been managed by the Cabinet Office regardless of what the minister wanted. (end)