The Lower House rejected Thursday a no-confidence motion against communications minister Ryota Takeda that was submitted by opposition parties over ethics code violations by ministry officials who were treated to lavish dinners by company executives.
The motion was voted down in the plenary session of the House of Representatives controlled by the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito.
But the development raised tensions between the ruling and opposition camps ahead of three by-elections scheduled for April 25.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has been under fire after its officials were found to have been wined and dined by executives at telecom giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. and Tohokushinsha Film Corp., which runs satellite broadcasting services.
The dinners violated the National Public Service Ethics Code, which forbids government employees from receiving gifts or favors from anyone over whom they exercise authority.
The no-confidence motion said Takeda, who heads the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, is not qualified to serve as minister as he himself drank with NTT executives but repeatedly refused to admit it.
The motion also criticized him for being reluctant to get to the bottom of allegations that the wining-and-dining episodes involving successive ministers and high-ranking officials have distorted government policies on broadcasting and telecommunications.
Ministry officials have denied granting any favors to NTT or Tohokushinsha, where Suga’s eldest son Seigo Suga works.
The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Democratic Party for the People and the Social Democratic Party jointly submitted the no-confidence motion on Wednesday.
The scandal was first reported by weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun, which said Seigo Suga attended some of the dinners with ministry officials. It resulted in the resignation of several key officials.
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