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OSAKA (Kyodo) An arrested welfare ministry official has hinted political ties were involved in the forging of official documents he allegedly committed in a postal fraud case, investigative sources said Thursday.

Tsutomu Kamimura, 39, who was in charge of measures for the disabled at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, told investigators that his predecessor told him to falsify the documents because it is “related to politics,” the sources said.

It is not known if he named any particular politician or party, but investigators suspect the ministry was systematically involved in the scheme.

Kamimura was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of fabricating a ministry document in late April 2004 that would help certain organizations get permission to use the postage discount for disabled people.

The Japan Post discount reduces the regular mail fee of ¥120 per item to around ¥8 for disabled people.

Hakusan-kai, an organization for the disabled headed by Kunio Kurasawa, 73, tied up with companies such as Osaka-based Shinsei Kigyo to send direct mail from multiple companies — including electronics retailer Best Denki Co. — by taking advantage of the discount system.

Kurasawa, a former secretary of a Diet lawmaker, visited the ministry in spring 2004.

“I met the division chief of the ministry, who is now the bureau chief, and told him that I was acquainted with the lawmaker,” Kurasawa was quoted as saying by investigators. “He said he would approve the ministry document I asked him to issue” to get permission for the postage discount.

When Kurasawa made the request, the division chief, whose name is withheld, immediately called an executive at Japan Post. Kurasawa later received the ministry document from the division chief in person.

The division chief has said he has no recollection of issuing the document or talking about Kurasawa’s organization.

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