National

Inquest sought over decision not to indict Finance Ministry officials over document tampering

JIJI

A group of citizens filed a petition with a prosecution inquest panel in Osaka on Tuesday to review the decision not to indict former and current Finance Ministry officials involved in the manipulation of official documents related to a controversial sale of state-owned land.

“I want to leave the decision to members of the inquest panel, who are laypeople,” Hiroshi Kamiwaki, a professor at Kobe Gakuin University, told a news conference in Osaka.

“I hope the whole truth will be eventually revealed in open court,” said Kamiwaki, who, along with lawyers, filed the petition over the scandal.

Late last month, the special investigation squad of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office decided not to indict 38 former and current ministry officials, including Nobuhisa Sagawa, then head of the Financial Bureau, citing insufficient evidence.

The petition argues that former and current ministry officials should be indicted, saying that deleting sections from the official documents on the land sale, including parts mentioning Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife, Akie, amount to a crime.

Officials at the ministry’s Kinki Local Finance Bureau also committed a breach of public trust — causing damage to the government — by giving a massive discount on a plot of state-owned land in Toyonaka, Osaka, that was sold to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, the petition said.

Akie Abe was once named honorary principal of an elementary school Moritomo Gakuen planned to open on the plot.

Lawyer Tokuo Sakaguchi said at the news conference, “The Moritomo scandal remains shrouded in mystery.” He added that he believes senior level prosecutors intentionally tried not to cause trouble for the government by deciding not to indict the officials involved.

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