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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 13 - 19  > Ex-high-ranking prosecutors voice opposition to bill facilitating government intervention in prosecutors’ office
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2020 May 13 - 19 [POLITICS]

Ex-high-ranking prosecutors voice opposition to bill facilitating government intervention in prosecutors’ office

May 16, 2020
A group of 14 former high-ranking prosecution officers, including former prosecutor-general Matsuo Kunihiro, on May 15 submitted to the Justice Minister a written opinion opposing a bill to revise the Public Prosecutors’ Office Act. They also went public with the document. The bill is criticized as facilitating government intervention in the country’s public prosecutors’ branch.

It is the first time that ex-high-ranking prosecutors acted in unison to voice their objection to a government-proposed bill. This action was triggered by the Abe administration’s move to bulldoze through the bill in the current Diet session in defiance of the mounting public opposition.

In the written opinion, the 14 ex-prosecutors criticized the revision bill for being designed to enable those in power to bottle up prosecutors’ investigations which the government deems to be inconvenient. They also condemn the bill for aiming to reduce the prosecution authority. The ex-prosecutors’ group urged the Abe administration to withdraw the bill. Most of the 14 prosecutors have experience investigating the Lockheed bribery scandals which surfaced in 1976 in which former Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei was arrested on suspicion of accepting a huge bribe from the U.S. aerospace company Lockheed.

After the submission of their protest statement, representing the 14-member group, former prosecutor in the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office Shimizu Isao together with Matsuo held a press conference in Tokyo.

Shimizu pointed out that the bill, which seeks to change the mandatory retirement age of prosecutors, was proposed in order to support the Abe Cabinet decision to delay the retirement of Kurokawa Hiromu, the head of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, who is said to be close to PM Abe.

Shimizu also pointed out, “This Cabinet decision appears to violate the separation of powers, the basic principle of modern day politics and clearly goes against the Constitution.” He added that the enactment of the bill will endanger Japan’s democracy.

Matsuo expressed concern that the bill, if enacted, will undermine the sovereign independence of prosecution officers.

Past related article:
>Opposition party leaders post video protesting against Cabinet move to meddle with appointment of prosecutors [May 12, 2020]
>Gov't uses even prewar law to control prosecutors as it wants [February 27, 2020]
>Abe Cabinet decision supposedly seeks to exert political influence over prosecution officers [February 5, 2020]
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