After reading the story “Pressure from above possibly behind Moritomo alterations” in the March 14 edition, I have several comments to make on the Moritomo scandal.

Full marks should go to the Asahi Shimbun for publishing the allegations that the documents that were presented to the Diet last year were not the original ones — a somewhat rare case where the press is doing its job of pointing out irregularities (although the Asahi Shimbun has done this in the past and The Japan Times does carry articles that question the administration).

However, I am concerned about how the opposition parties (and understandably LDP rank-and-file members) seem to be handling this affair.

The Finance Ministry, as guardian of the country’s wealth, should not be selling off national assets at huge discounts that cannot be approved — if directors of a company allowed such a thing to happen they could be sued by the company shareholders; in some countries public servants could be held liable.

Sontaku (a Japanese word that describes the act of pre-emptively taking an action without direct orders in order to please someone’s boss) might in some situations be an acceptable excuse for subordinates, but an organization (both public and corporate) that has material sontaku issues has big problems; our bureaucrats are meant to make sure that people follow the rules. Is this just a problem with the Finance Ministry, education ministry and the land and infrastructure ministry?

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out — but I will not hold my breath.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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