Two officials of the Finance Ministry’s Finance Inspection Department are under arrest on suspicion of accepting bribes from banks in the form of wining and dining, the special investigative squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office announced Monday night.The two arrested were identified as Koichi Miyagawa, 53, chief of the finance inspection office, and Toshimi Taniuchi, 48, assistant chief of the office administrative section, according to the squad. Miyagawa accepted 1,804,838 yen in bribes and was provided 4.4 million yen in discounts from an Asahi Bank affiliate when he bought his condominium, the investigators said. Taniuchi is suspected of accepting 1.61 million yen in bribes from Sanwa Bank in the form of entertainment and golfing.The arrests followed raids by prosecutors earlier in the evening on the Finance Ministry to probe whether the two inspectors accepted such bribes from several major banks, prosecution sources said. The two were also questioned.The banks entertained the two repeatedly to obtain information about impending ministry probes of their institutions, such as the dates of inspections and the names of bank branches under review, the sources alleged. The cost of entertaining the officials allegedly ranged from tens of thousands of yen to more than 100,000 yen per occasion.About 100 investigators searched Finance headquarters and the ministry’s financial inspection department, both located in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki government office district. The homes of the two officials — in Musashino, western Tokyo, and Yokohama — were also raided. One of the two was reprimanded by the ministry last July over allegations that he had been entertained by Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank in connection with a 1994 ministry inspection of the bank.The Finance Ministry attempted to control the damage it sustained in the raid. Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka told reporters minutes after the raid began that he considers the situation very serious and deeply regrets the latest turn of events. “We will take steps to ensure that such a situation does not recur, and will make every effort to regain the trust of the public,” Mitsuzuka said upon returning to the ministry from the Diet.But he showed no indication of resigning because of the scandal, stressing that the most important task at the moment is to take measures to do away with such shady ties. Vice Finance Minister Takeshi Komura told a news conference that the ministry will cooperate fully with investigators, but that he had no details so far. He voiced concern over the negative impact the scandal may have on legislative deliberations on several ministry-drafted bills currently in the Diet, including those that would pave the way for the use of 30 trillion yen in public funds to help stabilize the banking sector.
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