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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 20 - 26  > PM’s Office allegedly minimizes punishment of prosecutor for illegal mahjong gambling
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2020 May 20 - 26 [POLITICS]

PM’s Office allegedly minimizes punishment of prosecutor for illegal mahjong gambling

May 26, 2020
Superintending Prosecutor of the Tokyo High Prosecutors Office Kurokawa Hiromu resigned last week after a revelation that he gambled on mahjong games he played this month while the state of emergency over COVID-19 was in place. Kurokawa, however, received only a warning from the Justice Ministry.

Following Kurokawa’s resignation, there was a news report that the Justice Ministry had intended to punish him severely with disciplinary measures (i.e. imposing a disciplinary discharge, suspension from duty, salary reduction, or reprimand), but the ministry was instructed by the Prime Minister’s Office to just issue a warning.

Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Yamazoe Taku on May 25 at a Diet committee meeting urged the government to explain how it concluded that a warning is sufficient punishment for his misconduct. Justice Minister Mori Masako admitted that the ministry discussed the matter with the Prime Minister’s Office. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide did not give convincing responses.

The lawyer-turned JCP Dietmember said that according to the disciplinary guidelines of the National Personnel Authority and that of the Tokyo High Prosecutors Office, those who routinely engage in illegal gambling deserve to be punished by a suspension from duty or a disciplinary discharge.

Yamazoe stressed that given that the government has refused to sincerely explain the reason for the extension of Kurokawa’s retirement age and the issuance of the warning, no one can believe the government’s promise to not interfere with prosecutors offfices’ personnel affairs. Yamazoe urged the Abe government to withdraw the Cabinet decisions regarding the extension of Kurokawa’s tenure and its interpellation of relevant laws so as to prolong Kurokawa's term. Concerning a bill to change the Public Prosecutors’ Office Law, he demanded that the government exclude from the bill a provision enabling the government to exercise influence over prosecutors’ personnel affairs.

Months before the revelation of the mahjong gambling scandal, Kurokawa was under fire from the public. In January, the Abe Cabinet made an unprecedented decision to allow Kurokawa to remain in office beyond his mandatory retirement age. As Kurokawa is said to be close to PM Abe, this decision gave rise to an allegation that Abe aimed to place Kurokawa in the office of Prosecutor General.

Past related articles:
> Gov't gives up its plan to pass bill regarding top prosecutors' age of retirement during current Diet session [ May 19, 2020]
> Abe Cabinet decision supposedly seeks to exert political influence over prosecution officers [ February 5, 2020]
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