Why are ruling parties reluctant to summon Suzuki? -- Akahata editorial, May 9 (excerpts)

The burning political issue at present is whether or not Lower House member Suzuki Muneo must appear before the Diet committee to testify as a sworn witness again concerning the suspicions about his use of influence in public works projects for his own interests.

Suspicions about Suzuki have become stronger after his secretary and related construction contractors were arrested over government-funded projects in Russian-held islands off Hokkaido in northern Japan.

Backed by the overwhelming majority of the people, the four opposition parties, (including the Japanese Communist Party), are unanimously demanding that Suzuki be summoned again as a witness under oath to unravel the scandal. The ruling parties, however, are rejecting the demand and keeping a lid on the scandal.

Is it because thorough investigations into the scandal will damage them?

The Suzuki scandal is very ugly, giving an image of the Liberal Democratic Party tainted by cozy ties with bureaucrats and businesses using LDP politicians' influence to get public works projects for the benefit of contractor construction companies in return for donations.

Such monopolization of politics by LDP lawmakers actually affects both domestic and foreign policies.

Suzuki's dual-track diplomacy regarding Japan-Russia territorial issues had been revealed in the Foreign Ministry's internal documents released by JCP Chair Shii Kazuo. Corrupt politics have preyed on public works projects and impaired national interests.

Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro takes up the matter as if it is a personal affair, saying, "It's a problem of Suzuki himself." To uncover the scandal which the former LDP politician was involved in is Koizumi's responsibility as LDP president.

Koizumi and the ruling parties should resummon Suzuki as a sworn witness before the Diet. (end)