OSAKA — The Osaka District Public Prosecutor’s Office on Monday arrested the head of the Osaka High Prosecutor’s Office’s public security department on suspicion of fraud and abuse of power concerning the auction of a condominium.
Prosecutors from the district office arrested Tamaki Mitsui, 57, on suspicion of submitting falsified documents on July 24 last year to make it appear he had moved into a condominium in Kobe’s Chuo Ward so he could fraudulently obtain documents from the ward office to receive tax breaks.
Shortly before his arrest, Mitsui was relieved of his post and transferred to the general affairs department of the Osaka High Prosecutor’s Office to facilitate the arrest and the investigation, senior Justice Ministry officials said.
Investigators from the office searched Mitsui’s home in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, as well as the high prosecutor’s office. Three others, including Kobe gangster Naoto Kametani, 55, were also arrested in connection with the case.
According to investigators, Mitsui purchased the condo, owned by a relative of Kametani’s, at an auction for 16.51 million yen in February last year.
Mitsui allegedly later tried to sell the condo to Kametani for 20 million yen. Gangsters had been using the condominium as an office until they were evicted by the Kobe District Court in January this year, they said.
But Mitsui submitted papers showing he had moved, as well as residency registration documents in July and August to secure reductions for the registration license tax, which is not levied on those who live in properties they purchase, the investigators said.
The condo in question was purchased in 1994 by the wife of the head of a criminal gang affiliated with Yamaguchi-gumi, the nation’s largest crime syndicate.
About a year later, it was sold to one of Kametani’s relatives. In April 1996, the Kobe District Court decided to auction the property at the request of the bank that owned its mortgage. The gangsters, however, continued using the condo until the court ordered them to leave in January.
When Mitsui’s talks with the evicted gangsters over the repurchase of the condo hit a wall, Mitsui ordered a clerk at the high prosecutor’s office to issue copies of the criminal records of gangsters thought to be connected with the group — an abuse of his authority, prosecutors said.
Mitsui has denied the allegations, saying he intended to live in the condo.
Kametani has acknowledged the allegations against him.
In Tokyo on Monday, Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama expressed deep regret over the arrest, saying the incident has “brought immense disgrace” upon prosecutors.
“Nationwide, about 1,200 to 1,300 prosecutors sweat blood and take pains to maintain public order day and night,” Moriyama told a hastily called news conference Monday afternoon. “If (the incident) really took place, it would be inexcusable for having disgraced the reputation of prosecutors.”
The minister added that she had heard about the incident in detail early Monday morning.
Before his arrest, Mitsui told Kyodo News that senior prosecutors are misusing research expenses — allocated to prosecutors and Justice Ministry officials to obtain necessary information from informants — and that he is ready to blow the whistle on the illegal use of taxpayer money in the Diet.
A senior Justice Ministry official said investigations into Mitsui’s case were done properly and maintained his arrest “has nothing to do with” Mitsui saying he was about to reveal any improper use of money.
Prosecutors at the district office launched a probe into the case after receiving a tip from anonymous sources that Mitsui had been wined and dined and was seen meeting with gangsters in the high prosecutor’s office, the investigators said.
Prosecutors at the district office promoted the probe under the command of the high prosecutor’s office, they added.
Mitsui, a native of Ehime Prefecture, became a prosecutor in 1972 and assumed the chief post of the Osaka high prosecutor’s office’s public security department in 1999 after serving at district and high prosecutor’s offices in Kochi, Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture and Nagoya.
Moriyama said her ministry will dish out further personnel punishments after the Osaka District Prosecutor’s Office uncovers everything in its entirety, including other crimes the suspect may have committed.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.