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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 27 - June 2  > Cabinet should never again attempt to influence prosecution authority
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2020 May 27 - June 2 [POLITICS]

Cabinet should never again attempt to influence prosecution authority

May 31, 2020

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Public criticism is mounting because the Abe Cabinet just gave a “warning” as a punishment to former Superintending Prosecutor of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office Kurokawa Hiromu who resigned from office after the revelation that he enjoyed illegal mahjong gambling amid the state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, however, insists that it was an appropriate punishment. In addition, regarding the controversial Cabinet decision to extend the retirement age of Kurokawa, Abe maintains that there is no need to retract the decision.

Why did the Abe Cabinet seek to keep Kurokawa in office beyond the mandatory retirement age? Many news media suspect that Abe hoped that if the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office is headed by Kurokawa, it would ease up on investigations into a spate of criminal allegations involving PM Abe and other Cabinet ministers. Kurokawa is said to be close to Abe.

In fact, there were moves made supporting this allegation.

Kobe Gakuin University Professor Kamiwaki Hiroshi and some concerned citizens on January 14 filed a criminal complaint against PM Abe with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office Special Investigation Department. They claimed that Abe caused a loss to the national coffers by inviting a large number of his supporters to government-hosted cherry blossom-viewing parties which they said constitutes a breach of trust. The complaint was, however, rejected on January 31 on the grounds that the investigation department does not accept criminal complaints from a proxy (attorney).

According to Kamiwaki, he filed criminal complaints to prosecutors offices dozens of times in the past, but it was the first time that he heard such a reason for rejection. Kamiwaki’s complaint was turned down on the very day when the Cabinet decided to delay Kurokawa’s retirement (January 31). Many see a link between the two incidents on that day as Kurokawa is the head of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, the superior office of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office.

There is another controversy concerning who decided to give Kurokawa no more than a warning in regard to the mahjong gambling.

It is reported that the Justice Ministry intended to impose on Kurokawa a "punishment" based on the National Public Service Law, but the Prime Minister’s Office instructed the ministry to issue just a "warning" based on internal disciplinary rules of the Justice Ministry (Kyodo News, May 25).

Kurokawa has been dubbed “the guardian of the PM’s Office”. In order to prevent another incident like Kurokawa’s, it is essential to retract the January 31 Cabinet decision and a bill to amend the prosecutors’ office law which enables the Cabinet to arbitrarily extend the retirement age of selected senior prosecutors.

Past related article:
> Kurokawa’s resignation over illegal gambling exposes unjustness of Cabinet decision to extend his tenure as senior prosecutor [ May 22, 2020]
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