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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 March 11 - 17  > Justice Minister discredits prosecutors
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2020 March 11 - 17 [POLITICS]

Justice Minister discredits prosecutors

March 14, 2020
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Justice Minister Mori Masako, regarding the statement she had made in the Diet that prosecutors at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake ran away before anyone else, said, "I will retract the statement and will apologize for that."

It all starts with Abe decision to extend superintending prosecutor's retirement age

Reversing the conventional legal interpretation, the Abe Cabinet in January decided to extend the required retirement age of the chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, Kurokawa Hiromu, who is reportedly close to Prime Minister Abe. Justice Minister Mori's statement in question came out during a House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting on March 9 in association with this change in the legal interpretation.

Mori at the meeting cited "social changes" as one reason for changing the conventional interpretation of relevant laws. As an example of the changes, she said, "At the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, prosecutors in Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture ran away before any other people fled. At the same time, they set more than a dozen people who were in custody free without reason."

Her statement was completely unrelated to the extension of prosecutors' retirement age. This absurd story created an uproar around the meeting room. Even the Committee chairman (LDP) had to warn her, "Respond appropriately to the question."

Furthermore, on March 11 during a Lower House Legal Affairs Committee meeting, Mori said that what she said two days earlier "is a fact". Asked by opposition party representatives if the perception is an Abe government view, Mori said that it was her "personal opinion", again embroiling the meeting. The discussion fell apart and the meeting was adjourned.


Later on the same day in an Upper House committee meeting, Mori said she "will retract" her remark. Several opposition party lawmakers, however, pointed out that she earlier said that what she had said "is a fact". Then, Mori became defiant and said, "I mean, the fact that I gave the response to the questions at the House of Councilors Budget Committee meeting on March 9 is a fact." The meeting was stopped and was adjourned again.

Later, the Ministry of Justice officially explained that the responses Minister Mori gave are "groundless". She obviously lacks the qualifications to be a Cabinet Minister, but Prime Minister Abe told the press on the following day that he will keep her in his Cabinet.
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