Mori permits ‘relative truth’

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori suggested Thursday that he could condone his aides or relatives deceiving the media about his personal movements and activities.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto at his office in Tokyo, Mori said, half jokingly: “It’s no problem if my aides or family lie to reporters about my movements, is it?”

Mori’s remark comes in the wake of false announcements by former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi’s aides about his movements April 2, when he suffered a stroke.

Journalists assigned to report on the prime minister cover his public life in detail while his private life is usually left to Kyodo News and Jiji Press, who call his Official Residence or home for information such as what time he went to bed or woke up.

The two news agencies then deliver this information to newspapers and broadcasters.

Obuchi was rushed to a hospital just after 1 a.m. on April 2 after complaining of feeling unwell.

Obuchi’s secretary, however, told Kyodo and Jiji reporters at 10 a.m. the same day that the prime minister had got up at 6 a.m. and received no guests in the morning. At 5 p.m., the secretary told the reporters that Obuchi had spent the afternoon reading work-related documents.