If he can get land minister Nobuteru Ishihara’s permission, Japan Highway Public Corp. President Haruho Fujii is ready to reveal what went on behind closed doors when he was at the former Construction Ministry.
Fujii’s attorney, Yoshiharu Konagai, told reporters Wednesday that his client may tell all if he is exempted from the public servant’s oath to keep official secrets. Konagai did not say what those secrets might be.
Earlier this month, however, Ishihara said Fujii tried to “blackmail” him. According to Ishihara, the former vice construction minister told him he has information about shady land transactions involving several Diet members. Ishihara plans to dismiss Fujii as early as this week.
Konagai said he plans to send a letter to Ishihara, asking to what extent Fujii is allowed to reveal information he acquired during his time at the ministry. The Construction Ministry was merged with the Transport Ministry and the National Land Agency in 2001 to become the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry.
Under Article 100 of the National Civil Service Law, public servants are obliged to keep secret all information to which they had access in the course of their career, even after they have retired. Public servants can only reveal such information if they receive approval from the head of a government body.
Konagai did not make it clear if Fujii is ready to openly discuss what are rumored to be scandalous revelations involving some Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers and former construction ministry officials.
Konagai said Fujii might hold a news conference or grant interviews to the media if Ishihara gives his permission.
Ishihara has said that during a meeting with the Japan Highway chief on Oct. 5, Fujii tried to blackmail him by saying he has details of a shady land deal that involved five to six lawmakers. Fujii named the lawmakers by their initials, according to Ishihara.
At the same meeting, Ishihara urged Fujii to voluntarily resign, saying he is unqualified to oversee the reform of the debt-ridden semigovernmental expressway corporation.
Fujii rejected Ishihara’s plea, prompting the minister to launch a procedure to dismiss him. A hearing was held Friday, which in an unusual move was opened to the media, and Ishihara plans to sack Fujii by the end of this week.
In TV interviews, Ishihara has said that he urged Fujii during the Oct. 5 meeting to reveal what he knows about the alleged shady transactions and the lawmakers involved. He said he could “guess” which lawmakers Fujii was referring to after hearing their initials.
Konagai said Wednesday that while Ishihara’s earlier attempts to coax the information out of Fujii could be seen as a sign that the minister had wanted Fujii to speak out, recent events might indicate that Ishihara has changed his mind.
On Tuesday, Ishihara told a news conference he has no idea who Fujii was talking about at the Oct. 5 meeting and said he has no intention of launching an investigation into the allegations.
“Now the situation has developed and I, as attorney, have to confirm if Fujii has gained approval to openly talk about what he learned in the course of his duties,” Konagai said.
Asked if Fujii will reveal everything he knows if Ishihara grants his approval, Konagai said, “We’ll see about that.”
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