Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — The ruling bloc proposed to opposition parties on Monday that a Diet hearing with Tadao Yanase, a former executive secretary to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, be held on April 23 over a cronyism scandal involving school operator Kake Educational Institution, headed by a personal friend of Abe.
According to the plan agreed on by the Liberal Democratic Party and its Komeito ally, Yanase, currently vice minister for international affairs at the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, will be summoned to give unsworn testimony over the matter during three-hour intensive discussions at the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives.
Before then, Yanase will accompany Abe on his visit to the United States for four days from Tuesday.
The opposition side rejected the offer, sticking to its demand for Diet testimony under oath by the former Abe secretary.
LDP Diet affairs chief Hiroshi Moriyama informed Kiyomi Tsujimoto, his counterpart from the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, of the coalition proposal.
“The proposal is absolutely unacceptable,” Tsujimoto replied. Earlier on Monday, she told reporters the Kake issue has “entered the stage of summoning Yanase as a sworn witness.”
People who give false testimony as a sworn witness at the Diet can be charged with perjury.
The Ehime prefectural government has recently disclosed what it claims is a document associated with the scandal in which Yanase is quoted as saying that the Kake group’s plan to open the country’s first new university faculty of animal medicine in more than 50 years in the Ehime city of Imabari was “the prime minister’s matter.” He has denied the alleged remark.
According to the document, Yanase made the remark at a meeting with Ehime and Imabari officials in April 2015. As an unsworn witness in a lower house Budget Committee meeting in July last year, he said that he has no memory of meeting officials from the city.
The veterinary medicine faculty of Okayama University of Science was opened in a national strategic special zone in Imabari earlier this month.
On Monday, the ruling camp also proposed that the lower house Budget Committee summons, as unsworn witnesses, Yutaka Fujiwara, a senior economy ministry official who was formerly in charge of the national strategic special zone system at the Cabinet Office, former Ehime Gov. Moriyuki Kato, and Tatsuo Hatta, a member of the government’s national strategic special zone promotion council.Speech