Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto hinted to reporters Oct. 7 that he does not oppose the idea of summoning to the Diet an oil wholesaler who allegedly provided illicit political donations to several key members of the Liberal Democratic Party.Before the kick-off of the Lower House Budget Committee, which was boycotted by three non-Communist opposition parties, Hashimoto said, “I think the Diet can summon (Junichi) Izui if necessary. It would be only natural for Izui to explain what he said if his remarks have troubled others.”The three parties boycotting the Budget Committee session were demanding that Izui be summoned to the Diet over the alleged payoffs. Shinshinto, the Democratic Party of Japan and the Taiyo Party have stated they will not attend any committee meetings until an Izui appearance date is set.The LDP, the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party attended the committee. New Party Sakigake has no representation on the committee.The LDP has been dragging its feet on arranging a date to summon Izui. The committee is the most powerful in the Diet. The day’s session was the first major deliberation of the current Diet sitting.The three opposition parties filed a strong protest with committee Chairman Hikaru Matsunaga for the decision to go ahead and open the session without the opposition parties in attendance. “The LDP should agree to arrange the date to summon Izui before the committee because problems related to Izui’s questionable donations have further deepened public distrust in politics,” Hirohisa Fujii of Shinshinto said.In contrast to Hashimoto’s remark, Takashi Fukaya, an LDP member on the committee, indicated at the beginning of the session that it would not be desirable to summon somebody to the Diet who is on trial, because Diet testimony may adversely influence court hearings. Izui is on trial for allegedly evading about 330 million yen in income tax, and fraud of about 2.4 billion yen, Fukaya said.The JCP and the SDP demanded during the meeting that the committee summon Izui as early as possible. Matsunaga replied that as committee chairman he will make every effort to bring about the summons.

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