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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 June 27 - July 3  > Question arises from dropping of charges against bureaucrat falsifying official documents
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2018 June 27 - July 3 [POLITICS]

Question arises from dropping of charges against bureaucrat falsifying official documents

July 3, 2018

A municipal worker in mid June was ruled guilty of fabricating official documents, but a high-ranking Finance Ministry bureaucrat who was found to have falsified official documents escaped indictment. This has aroused controversy.

The official in question, former Finance Ministry Financial Bureau chief Sagawa Nobuhisa, deleted the names of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s wife, Akie, and several politicians from official documents concerning the controversial national land deal with the school corporation Moritomo Gakuen. As many as 300 entries in 14 documents were inappropriately changed and removed.

The report of the ministry’s internal investigation points out that Sagawa doctored the documents in a bid to avoid being grilled in the Diet. When the document falsification occurred, Sagawa was in a position to answer questions from opposition lawmakers concerning an allegation that the first lady put undue pressure on the Finance Ministry to offer a huge discount in the national land sale to Moritomo.

Explaining the decision to not indict Sagawa, the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office insisted that the act of doctoring was not significant enough to invalidate the documents and that therefore what Sagawa did was not a criminal act of forging official documents.

On the other hand, in June in Okinawa, a Miyakojima City government worker was sentenced to 18 months in prison with three years suspension of sentence for forging official documents with the use of the official government seal. The worker was responsible for overseeing the city’s contractors that collect garbage. The Naha District Court Hira Branch in its ruling said that the city employee had falsified official documents in order to conceal from the city assembly a case in which a contractor inflated the amount of garbage collected.

The general public cannot see why Sagawa should be allowed to get away without being charged after deceiving the Diet with altered documents for more than a year. Asahi Shimbun on June 18 released its poll results showing that only 18% of the respondents thought that it was appropriate for the prosecutor to decide not to indict Sagawa, compared to 66% who think otherwise. The Finance Ministry’s falsification of documents should be further investigated.

Past related articles:
> Koike: Finance Minister incapable of disclosing truth behind Moritomo-related documents scandal [June 5, 2018]
> Abe’s wife should explain her involvement in ‘Moritomo’ scandal before Diet [March 20, 2018]

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