Haruho Fujii, president of Japan Highway Public Corp., is considering legal action against land minister Nobuteru Ishihara and Shinzo Abe, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Fujii’s lawyers said Saturday.
The lawyers said in a news conference that they are examining whether Fujii can lodge a criminal complaint with law enforcement authorities that Ishihara and Abe libeled him, and file damages suits.
The lawyers claim Ishihara and Abe have been criticizing Fujii in campaign speeches and on other occasions.
Ishihara is expected to formally sack Fujii on Monday following a dramatic, nine-hour showdown between Fujii and the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry in a hearing on Friday.
At the hearing, bureaucrats explained in the presence of reporters why they wanted to dismiss him, while Fujii protested fiercely that the move is an abuse of power and politically motivated.
The hearing was thrown open to the media at the request of Fujii, who has been under fire for allegedly hiding a financial statement showing JH’s negative net worth.
But the ministry denied the alleged financial statement is the reason Fujii is being fired.
During the hearing, a ministry official said it was dismissing Fujii because he is “not sufficiently qualified to lead JH at this critical moment to carry out highway system reforms,” in reference to the government’s plan to privatize Japan Highway and three other public highway entities.
Fujii’s side maintains the dismissal is politically motivated ahead of the Nov. 9 general election for the House of Representatives.
Fujii is widely seen as opposed to sweeping reforms of Japan Highway, and his dismissal could be used by the government of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to claim it has taken a step toward reforming the nation’s road-related projects.
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.