Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Taku Yamasaki said Sunday that the government is being heavy-handed in dealing with the dismissal of Japan Highway Public Corp. President Haruho Fujii.
The government “should have persuaded him (into resigning), instead of carrying out the hearing in a high-handed manner,” said Yamasaki, one of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s closest LDP allies.
Meanwhile, Fujii’s dismissal is likely to take place Thursday or Friday, rather than Monday as planned by the transport minister, government sources said.
Preparing the necessary documents to sack the head of the government-affiliated body is taking longer than expected, the sources said. Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Nobuteru Ishihara said earlier that Fujii would be removed from the post as early as Monday, following Friday’s nine-hour showdown in the hearing between Fujii and the ministry.
Opposition lawmakers have called for Fujii, who faces allegations that he hid a financial statement showing Japan Highway’s negative net worth, to testify at the Diet about an earlier discussion with Ishihara in which he reportedly mentioned the initials of some lawmakers involved in potential political scandals.
But appearing on a television talk show, Yamasaki said, “If the matter is taken up at the House of Councilors during an election, it will serve as a kind of election obstruction.”
Yamasaki said it would be better for the Diet to handle Fujii’s case after the Nov. 9 House of Representatives election.
Fukushiro Nukaga, chairman of the LDP Affairs Policy Research Council, also said, “The matter should be investigated, but the testimony is too weighty.”
Ichiro Ozawa, who used to head the Liberal Party and is now a member of the Democratic Party of Japan, meanwhile said, “Prime Minister Koizumi and others should require that the case be investigated.”
Fujii, a longtime powerful bureaucrat responsible for road construction, is also widely seen as opposed to Japan Highway’s drastic reforms, such as freezing construction of more highways.
Fujii has said the move to dismiss him is an abuse of power and politically motivated. He repeatedly denied the existence of the financial statement in question in the Diet earlier this year.
The ministry has said Fujii is incompetent because his stance on the statement has been inconsistent and has thus seriously weakened public confidence in Japan Highway.
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