Exec tied to Tomobe scandal skips Diet testimony

Real estate company head Mamoru Saito, who is allegedly deeply involved in the Orange Kyosai Kumiai mutual aid society fraud, suddenly refused to give sworn testimony Mar. 21 before the Diet, claiming poor health.

His refusal to appear, which came despite earlier confirmation that he would testify in connection with the scandal, angered members of the Upper House Budget Committee, before which he was scheduled to appear as a sworn witness. Saito, 48, known as a political broker, allegedly worked to help Upper House member Tatsuo Tomobe win a seat in the 1995 Upper House election.

Tomobe, who was stripped of his Diet immunity and indicted for fraud, is believed to be the key player in the misappropriation of deposits for an investment fund offered by Orange Kyosai, which was run by members of his family. Saito allegedly received millions of yen from Tomobe and delivered some of the cash to lawmakers in a bid to buy Tomobe a Diet seat. “It is extremely regrettable that Saito did not come to the Diet, in spite of his earlier confirmation,” said Taichiro Okawara, chairman of the committee.

Okawara said Saito’s attorney passed early Mar. 21 the witness’ written intention not to appear before the committee due to health reasons. Yukuo Omuro, the attorney, also provided a medical certificate issued by a medical institution where Saito was hospitalized late Mar. 20. The certificate, written by a doctor at Nippon Medical School Chiba Hokuso Hospital in Inba, Chiba Prefecture, stated that Saito is suffering from diabetes and a cerebrovascular disorder and needs to be kept under close examination, according to Okawara. But another medical certificate issued earlier this week by another hospital stated that although Saito has the disorders, he has no serious complications and is fit enough to walk by himself and go out, Okawara said.