Farm chief confirms classified papers leak

Documents passed to head of export group based in Tokyo


Classified ministry documents were leaked to the head of a Japanese export-promotion group who spoke often with a Chinese diplomat suspected of spying, according to new farm minister Akira Gunji.

“I’ve heard that several kinds of documents were leaked” to the head of the Tokyo-based Promotion Association of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries & Foods Exporting to China, Gunji told Japanese media Wednesday. “I’ve told ministry officials to investigate the matter thoroughly to report our findings properly.”

The head of that group had frequent contact with Li Chunguang, a first secretary at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo suspected of engaging in espionage while in Japan. Li has returned to China.

The leak was confirmed by a fact-finding team, formed on May 30 following news reports on the Chinese diplomat’s alleged spying activities, according to Gunji, who on Monday replaced Michihiko Kano as agriculture minister.

Kano had come under fire over the spying allegations involving the Chinese diplomat and a farm ministry project. Kano has admitted he met the diplomat on several occasions but denied allegations he passed classified documents of the farm ministry to him.

The Chinese diplomat was involved in a project, launched in December 2010 by a senior official of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and a Chinese state-owned firm, in which Japanese agricultural products were introduced at a food fair in Beijing.

Rare change to report


The farm ministry plans to revise an annual policy report already adopted by the Cabinet, ministry officials said Wednesday.

The rare move comes after the Liberal Democratic Party complained that some content in the paper assumes the establishment of a public-private fund to boost the farming sector, even though a bill to allow for such an entity has yet to be passed.

The report on food, agriculture and rural areas in the nation for fiscal 2011, which ended March 31, was adopted by the Cabinet in April. The ministry plans to ask the Cabinet to approve the report again after the revision, the officials said.

The aim of the annual report is to inform people about agricultural policy measures carried out during the year and planned projects for the next year.

According to officials, the LDP opposes the report’s claim that the fund will help rejuvenate farming, mountain and fishing villages. Although the ministry hopes to set up the fund this autumn, parliamentary deliberations on the submitted bill have not begun due to the LDP’s cautious stance.