甘利氏献金報道 疑惑解明へ説明から逃げるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Amari must not avoid explaining about scandal involving political funds
甘利氏献金報道 疑惑解明へ説明から逃げるな

A politics-and-money scandal involving Akira Amari, state minister in charge of economic revitalization — who has been acting as a control tower of the economic policies of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — has emerged.

Amari must unravel the facts promptly and make full explanations.

The scandal was reported by Shukan Bunshun, a weekly magazine. The magazine alleges that Amari and his secretaries received illegal donations from a construction company in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture, in return for extending influence to resolve an issue of compensation over a land dispute involving road construction.

His secretaries were allegedly involved in negotiations over compensation with the Urban Renaissance Agency. The value of the funds and entertainment that the construction company allegedly provided Amari and his close aides is said to total ¥12 million, including ¥500,000 in cash Amari reportedly received at his ministerial office in November 2013.

If the allegations of influence-peddling and acceptance of cash prove true, it will have serious consequences. Amari and his secretaries may face charges of graft for influence-peddling and violation of such laws as the Political Funds Control Law.

What kind of relationship did Amari’s office have with the construction company, and how were the secretaries involved in the negotiations for compensation? What actually happened in connection with the alleged donations? Amari must conduct detailed investigations into these matters and provide compelling explanations.

Concerning the allegations involving his secretaries, Amari said verification will be conducted by a team that includes specialists. Depending on the results of the probe, his supervisory responsibility for secretaries may be questioned.

Minimize impact on TPP

Amari declared during a news conference that he “did nothing illegal.” But he acknowledged part of the magazine report, including meeting with officials of the construction company. He said, “There are some discrepancies between what was reported in the article and what I remember.” These explanations are not enough to dispel the suspicions.

In regard to the allegation that he received cash, Amari said, “Within a week, I will check my memory and speak about it.” As he stated, he must hold himself accountable.

Amari represented Japan in the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which will be signed in a ceremony scheduled for Feb. 4. He will take charge of answering interpellations during the current Diet sessions on TPP-related bills.

It is necessary to minimize the impact of the scandal on deliberations on TPP bills.

Three ministers — including Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi — have resigned over scandals involving politics and money since the second Abe Cabinet was inaugurated in December 2012.

In charge of promoting Abenomics economic policies, Amari is a principal minister of the Abe Cabinet along with other Cabinet members including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. The latest scandal is considered more serious than the past cases and may shake the backbone of the Abe administration, depending on how it evolves.

Entrusting Amari with how to deal with the matter, Abe said he believes “Amari will be accountable.” Ahead of the House of Councillors election set for this summer, Abe must realize the stern fact that dark clouds have started forming over his administration and remain alert.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 23, 2016)

by kiyoshimat | 2016-01-24 09:40 | 英字新聞

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