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The government is investigating a TV program by Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc. on the wartime Japanese germ warfare unit because it includes footage in which a photo of Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe appears in the background, in a storeroom, officials said Wednesday.

Abe considered the front-runner to succeed Junichiro Koizumi as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in September, has no connection with the notorious Unit 731.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications was notified Tuesday about the TV program, which TBS broadcast on July 21, the officials said.

TBS said in a statement it had not deliberately included the Abe photo in the background of the shot and offered an apology for having caused trouble.

According to the broadcaster, while filming a TBS reporter conducting a phone interview in its newsroom, the Abe photo happened to be sitting within range of the shot, in a prop storeroom.

“I, too, was quite surprised to see the video image,” Abe told a news conference Wednesday morning. “If it is intentionally done, it’s awful, and if it’s intended to damage my political career, it’s a grave problem.”

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