Officials of Japan’s communications ministry were treated to dinners by Tohokushinsha Film Corp. on 54 occasions between November 2015 and December last year, a report by a special investigation committee set up by the broadcasting company showed Monday.
They included 20 dinner sessions that were not mentioned in a report on the results of the ministry’s own investigation into the dining scandal released in February.
All costs related to the 54 dinners were covered by Tohokushinsha, according to the report compiled by the committee, headed by lawyer Shinichiro Inoue.
The report concluded that the dinner sessions were aimed at building relationships with ministry officials and were not intended to make requests related to licensing and other matters in an unfair way.
According to the report, a Tohokushinsha executive visited the then-director of the ministry’s Satellite and Regional Broadcasting Division, which oversees satellite broadcasting, in August 2017 after the company recognized its violation of a foreign ownership rule under the broadcasting law.
The executive met with the then-director to report and consult on its breach of the foreign ownership rule and they later had dinner, according to the report.
It was completely thoughtless not to imagine that having dinner with the then-director might be regarded by third parties as an unfair move to seek preferential treatment from the ministry, the report said.
Most of the dinner sessions were set up by a former Tohokushinsha executive. Sometimes, the Tohokushinsha side gave ministry officials taxi tickets and tickets for professional baseball games as gifts, the report said. Fourteen ministry officials were treated to dinners, it said.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s eldest son, Seigo, attended 22 of the dinner sessions as a Tohokushinsha official. According to the report, there were no emails in which the Tohokushinsha side suggested a link with the prime minister, who served as chief cabinet secretary at the time, to induce ministry officials to offer favorable treatment.
Behind the dinners was the company’s hope to maintain its leading position in the industry, achieved by the late founder of Tohokushinsha, the report said.
The report concluded that Tohokushinsha executives lacked awareness of the importance of legal compliance.
It is possible to regard the dinner sessions as a way for the company side to get information difficult to obtain in daytime meetings, the report said.
Tohokushinsha said it will cut pay for President and CEO Shinya Nakajima and six other board members for insufficient oversight. The company also said it will ban executives and employees from having dinners with government officials in principle.
In February, the communications ministry punished 11 of its officials for being dined by the Tohokushinsha side in violation of an ethics code for government employees.
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