The Cabinet Office said Friday that it has verbally reprimanded six current and former personnel division heads for failing to properly manage records on controversial cherry blossom-viewing parties hosted by the prime minister.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration apparently hopes that the punishment by the government agency, also including a summer bonus cut planned this year, will put an end to the scandal over the tax-funded parties before the ordinary parliamentary session from Monday. Abe has been criticized for using the parties for his own gain.
The six officials are Shuya Yoshioka, the current chief of the division, and five of his predecessors, including Hiroshi Tawa, vice minister for policy coordination at the Cabinet Office, and Yasuhisa Ino, president of the office’s Economic and Social Research Institute.
The remaining three are Hiromu Onoda, who heads the agency’s Decoration Bureau; Hiromitsu Shimada, director-general for policy planning; and Hiroshi Nomura, executive research fellow of the institute.
According to the Cabinet Office, Yoshioka in November last year erased the name of the Cabinet Secretariat’s Cabinet Affairs Office from a list of recommended guests for a cherry-viewing party hosted by Abe before it was submitted to Diet. Before the alteration, the section was listed as a recommender.
Yoshioka was punished for this extremely inappropriate act, the Cabinet Office said.
In violation of the public records management law and other rules, the Cabinet Office failed to keep records on the guest lists for cherry blossom-viewing parties between 2011 and 2017 and the discarding of the lists.
The five former personnel division heads were in charge of the management of the lists.