• Jiji


The "Akagi file" documents on a high-profile record-tampering scandal involving the Finance Ministry, which were compiled by a ministry official who took his own life, were disclosed for the first time on Tuesday.

The documents showed that one of instructions to alter the records regarding the sale of a state-owned land plot at a huge discount to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, once linked to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife, came from Nobuhisa Sagawa, then director-general of the ministry's Financial Bureau.

A copy of the 518-page documents was delivered on the day to the office of an attorney for the wife of the deceased official, Toshio Akagi, who worked at the ministry's Kinki Local Finance Bureau in Osaka Prefecture. The attorney works for the wife, Masako, in her damages lawsuit filed against the government over her husband's suicide.

The documents were opened by the widow. Finding a handwritten note among the documents, Masako, 50, said, "It's my husband's," adding, "I think (the documents) are my husband's last voice, so I'll read them carefully." Akagi committed suicide in 2018. He was 54 at the time.

The Akagi file includes documents on who gave what instructions in February-April 2017 to alter records regarding the land sale in chronological order, as well as emails exchanged between the Financial Bureau at the ministry's Tokyo headquarters and the Kinki local bureau.

The ministry's report on its past investigation had not disclosed the tampering instruction process in detail.

In the documents, Akagi said that revising already-approved records is problematic and should not be conducted and that he protested strongly to an official in charge at the ministry headquarters.

According to the documents, the Financial Bureau ordered the Kinki local bureau to come up with an expression for correcting the wording that could be taken to have given consideration to Moritomo Gakuen.

Akagi said in the file that the doctoring was instructed also by Sagawa.

In the documents, however, the name of a ministry official who issued the tampering instructions directly to the Kinki local bureau is blacked out.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Teruyuki Ogoshi, the attorney representing Akagi's wife, said, "We can assume that similar instructions were also sent by email within the Financial Bureau."

Ogoshi said that he will file a request for seeing the original Akagi file, at Wednesday's hearing in the lawsuit at Osaka District Court, and seek in the near future the disclosure of the blacked-out name of the ministry official who was said in the documents to have given the direct tampering instructions.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.