• Kyodo


Prosecutors are poised to give up the idea of appealing a court ruling last week that acquitted senior welfare ministry official Atsuko Muraki of involvement in abusing the postal discount system for disabled people, prosecution sources said Wednesday.

The Osaka District Public Prosecutor’s Office is expected to announce the decision soon, the sources said.

The Osaka District Court on Friday turned down the prosecutors’ demand that Muraki be given an 18-month prison term, saying there was no evidence to prove her involvement in the case.

The district prosecutors will consult early next week with the Osaka High Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office, where a majority of prosecutors are opposed to filing an appeal, before it announces the decision by the Sept. 24 deadline for filing an appeal, according to sources.

If the prosecutors forgo the appeal, the acquittal will become final and Muraki, who has been suspended from her job since her arrest, will be able to return to work. Welfare minister Akira Nagatsuma expressed readiness Friday to give an appropriate post to Muraki if prosecutors decide not to appeal.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is making arrangements to appoint Muraki to a bureau head post after she is reinstated in the minister’s secretariat, ministry officials said.

As her trial leave will expire Sept. 25, falling on a Saturday, she is expected to be back to work Sept. 27 or later, the officials said.

The Osaka District Court acquitted Muraki, 54, former director general of the ministry’s Equal Employment, Children and Families Bureau, of instructing a subordinate, 41-year-old Tsutomu Kamimura, to fabricate and issue an official document for an organization in an attempt to use the mail discount system for disabled people.

The acquittal was widely expected as the court decided earlier this year not to accept as evidence most depositions by her alleged accomplices and witnesses, saying they may have been coerced by prosecutors.

According to investigative sources, some of the prosecutors are upset the depositions were not accepted as evidence and said during their discussions at the district office on Tuesday that they should file an appeal.

However, many of the prosecutors are inclined to forgo the case as there is not much possibility that the depositions will be deemed credible at the high court and that they are not likely to come up with new evidence, the sources added.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.