Oshima says he won’t quit over alleged kickbacks

Farm minister Tadamori Oshima said Thursday in the Diet that he will not resign over allegations his secretary took kickbacks related to public works projects.

Oshima, appearing before the House of Representatives Budget Committee, denied any wrongdoing and suggested he should be allowed to get on with his work.

“What I should do is to discipline myself and engage in politics,” he said.

Oshima was responding to questions from Banri Kaieda, policy research council chairman of the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party.

Kaieda told Oshima that lawmakers are responsible for their secretaries, citing similar remarks Oshima made when he was Diet affairs chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Oshima replied that supervisory responsibility varies depending on how secretaries are hired.

“What I should do is make efforts to clarify what has been reported,” he said.

The weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported last week that Hiroshi Miyauchi, Oshima’s government-paid policy secretary, took 60 million yen in kickbacks from construction companies and brokers in return for helping them win contracts for public works projects in Aomori Prefecture.

Oshima, who was appointed farm minister in the Cabinet reshuffle last month, is a member of the Lower House elected from Aomori.

Oshima fired Miyauchi on Oct. 18 but said at a news conference he does not intend to step down from his post.

The lawmaker also said Miyauchi admitted introducing companies seeking public works contracts to local governments but denied receiving money for favors.

As for the roughly 50 million yen the former secretary allegedly used to make a down payment on his new house, Oshima explained that the money came from legal sources, such as bank deposits and donations from relatives.