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A high-ranking public prosecutor resigned Friday after being reprimanded by the Justice Ministry for using his title in a letter sent to a tax office to protest a 1997 investigation into his wife’s failure to report part of her inheritance, Justice Minister Kokichi Shimoinaba said Friday.

Arata Sawa, 56, of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office, was the top prosecutor at the Niigata District Public Prosecutor’s Office when the investigation began.

“We have determined that his act can be criticized as unjustly using his status as a prosecutor in his personal affairs,” the minister said. “(His act) hurt the credibility of all public prosecutors and is disgraceful.”

Sawa sent the letter to the Tamagawa Taxation Office in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward in January, shortly after the office started investigating his wife’s failure to fully report assets that she inherited after the death of her father, sources said. The father, who was a former top prosecutor at the Osaka High Public Prosecutor’s Office, died in December 1995.

In the letter, Sawa criticized the tax office, saying: “The probe this time is flawed, even from the viewpoint of a prosecutor who represents public interests.” The letter angered the tax authorities, who interpreted it as his attempt to interfere with their investigation, sources said.

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