The investigative team of the Tokyo District Prosecutors Office started on April 8 compulsory criminal investigation over the alleged cash deals of ex-Minister Amari Akira in charge of economic revitalization. Concerning the case, three attorneys from the Lawyers Center for Social Democracy indicted the former minister on suspicion of violation of the Mediation Gain Punishment Act on April 16.
STRONG SUSPICION OF VIOLATION OF MEDIATION GAIN PUNISHMENT ACT
Don’t Close the Case
The investigation covers a construction company of Shiroi City, Chiba Prefecture, which is suspected to have handed over 6 million Yen to the ex-minister Amari’s side, the UR (=Urban Renaissance Agency), which has negotiated with the company, and other related parties. Reportedly, the prosecutors office has questioned the ex-minister’s former official secretary, too, at his will, who replied to the official team that ‘he had received 8 million Yen’ in addition to 6 million Yen, according to the press.
The Mediation Gain Punishment Act was implemented in 2003. Any parliamentary member has not been accused of by this law. Mr. Amari, an influential MP and key-post Minister of the Abe government, is a culprit of the scandal. The case must not be closed in an ambiguous way.
They say Prime Minister Abe has a plan to stage a general election simultaneously with the scheduled House of Councilors election in July. The scandal may be closed in a political settlement. Under these circumstances the prosecutors have begun examination. This is an important step forward to find out truths because Mr. Amari has not been summoned and witnesses have not been inquired.
Problems of politics and money, opaque political habits and dirty connection of politics with administrative bodies ? these are old and new facts. Full exploration is necessary in order to eradicate these practices and fair examination by prosecutors is highly expected.
The law stipulates conditions of a crime: an MP is asked for help by someone, then he takes advantage of his authority to settle the issue, and then he receives reward in return. The construction company in Chiba Prefecture had asked MP Amari and his secretary to raise the amount of compensation and the Amari office, responding to the request, negotiated with the Urban Renaissance Agency, a party to pay it.
The minister’s secretary stands on the front line, but everyone can easily see he represents MP Amari who, apparently took advantage of his position in the deal because he is a key person of the ruling party. The construction company hoped the minister to use power, while the latter involved in the negotiation in expectation to receive remuneration from the former.
Points lie in how the company requested the politician, how the latter’s influence and authority have worked on and meaning of cash that Mr. Amari received; whether it was remuneration for his mediation. These three points must be explained clearly. People wait for a solution from the prosecutor’s office on the doubts. The scandal is characterized by an unquestionably evident fact that cash was handed over at a specific period and place.
A crime of mediation gain is provided to cut off dirty connection between money and politics ? this is an area that a crime of mediation-bribe cannot cover. Criminal suspicion is established, disregarding official competence, when it is proven that an MP has taken his authority in an arrangement. If a fact should be proven that MP Amari involved in the negotiation using his power, he would face an offense of mediation gain.
April 19, 2016