should explain before the Diet, and it is not true,” Abe said. “(The opposition) would use (my) summoning as a witness to defer (Diet deliberations on) the budget.”

The Asahi Shimbun reported Wednesday that Abe and trade minister Shoichi Nakagawa learned of the contents of the NHK program before it was aired Jan. 30, 2001, and met with NHK executives to lodge a protest.

Abe was deputy chief Cabinet secretary at the time, while Nakagawa was head of a Diet group tasked with discussing what to do with history textbooks that were beginning to mention atrocities committed by Japan during the war.

On Sunday’s program, Abe reiterated that he did not call on the NHK executives, but that they made an appointment to visit him to discuss the public broadcaster’s annual budget, which is subject to Diet approval, and future projects. He met with them a day before the program was aired and was told that NHK had made some changes to make it more “balanced.”

Nakagawa, for his part, has insisted that he met with the NHK executives three days after the program was aired, not before.

“I told (the NHK executives) nothing but to make the news program fair and impartial,” Abe said of the meeting.

The program covered a mock trial held in December 2000 by citizens’ groups, whose verdict found Emperor Showa guilty of permitting the sexual slavery. The verdict was edited out of the program.

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