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With the Lower House’s passage of the fiscal 2021 budget last Tuesday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga must’ve been hoping it might draw a line under recent scandals, reports Satoshi Sugiyama.

Perhaps now the media would give him credit for securing funds for his policy goals, and this could put the ruling LDP back on a positive trajectory ahead of an election this year?

Alas, it wasn’t to happen. Two days later, the government found itself vowing to conduct a swift and thorough probe after Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) said its president had dined with senior communications ministry officials mired in an ethics scandal involving Suga’s eldest son.

Dismissal of Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications official wined and dined by NTT: The substance of the story [Japanese] | TBS NEWS
Dismissal of Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications official wined and dined by NTT: The substance of the story [Japanese] | TBS NEWS

On Monday, Yasuhiko Taniwaki — a vice minister for policy coordination at the ministry, and a figure who played a key role in achieving Suga’s goal of lowering cellphone fees — was ousted from his job, days after admitting in the Diet to attending the dinners and paying just a token fraction of the costs.

Along with 10 other officials, Taniwaki was also reprimanded by the ministry late last month for violating the code after being treated to lavish dinners by executives of Tohokushinsha Film, including Seigo Suga, the PM’s son.

Meanwhile, as reports of dodgy dinners costing ¥70,000 (about $650) or more continue to emerge, the big question on the lips of ordinary Tokyoites must be: Just how do you go about spending that much on a meal in the capital?

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