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A committee of outside experts set up by the infrastructure ministry to investigate the tampering of construction order statistics held its first meeting Thursday.

The committee aims to uncover the circumstances and reasons that led to the tampering in order to prevent recurrences. Infrastructure minister Tetsuo Saito has instructed the panel to compile a report by mid-January next year.

The seven-member committee is led by Kazumine Terawaki, former prosecutor-general at the Osaka High Public Prosecutor’s Office.

“This is an important mission for regaining public trust in government statistics,” Saito said at the meeting. “I want the committee to thoroughly investigate the incident.”

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Terawaki said the committee will conduct hearings with as many people as possible. “We want the infrastructure ministry to fully cooperate to uncover all facts,” he said.

The panel will consider whether the tampering amounts to a violation of the statistics law, which bans making important data inaccurate, Terawaki said.

The ministry was found to have rewritten data regarding orders for domestic construction works projects, double-counting some data since April 2013.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had instructed Saito to have an investigative committee thoroughly look into the tampering and report the results within a month.

The internal affairs ministry’s expert committee on government statistics is scheduled to meet Friday to receive a briefing from the infrastructure ministry.

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