On September 11, the front pages of the morning editions of various newspapers featured extensive coverage of the acquittal the day before of Atsuko Muraki, former bureau chief of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
The Sankei Shimbun newspaper read as follows:
The trial of former Bureau Chief Atsuko Muraki (54) of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, who was accused of forging a postal discount system certificate for a group of disabled people and charged with creating and using a fabricated official document, was held on September 10 at the Osaka District Court. The prosecutors requested eighteen months imprisonment. Presiding Judge Nobuyuki Yokota handed down a ruling of innocence, saying, “The claims of the prosecutors do not concur with objective reality.” […] Presiding Judge Yokota described the deposition acknowledging the participation of former Bureau Chief Muraki and others as “lacking sufficient credibility.” He also judged that the claims by the prosecution saying the incident was a “Diet matter” recommended by Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Diet Member Hajime Ishii (76) “cannot be credited,” refuting the scenario created by the prosecutors. Based on this judgment, the prosecutors have begun considering their next step, including a view towards abandoning an appeal.
The outline of the ruling acknowledged none of the prosecutors’ claims regarding former Bureau Chief Muraki: “it is untrue that Muraki issued a forged certificate recognizing the Rin-no-kai group as a group for disabled people,” “the former chief clerk, Muraki’s subordinate, did create the certificate” but “the certificate was not created according to the direction of Muraki,” and “we recognize no conspiracy between Rin-no-kai and the former chief clerk.”
The major turning point for this trial occurred in May of 2010. According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, the prosecutors “claimed that, based on the testimony of Tsutomu Kamimura [the former chief clerk] and others during the investigation stage, Muraki (the section manager of the division at the time) directed Kamimura to fraudulently issue the certificate based on the orders of former Director Yukio Shiota.” However, “in the trial of May 2010, Presiding Judge Yokota decided not to accept thirty-four of forty-three pieces of evidence from Muraki and others in the deposition submitted by the prosecutors, saying they were ‘created under the guidance of the public prosecutors.’”
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, after the judicial decision, “assistant public prosecutor Tadafumi Oshima of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office’s investigative team commented that ‘we plan to respond in an appropriate way after carefully examining the judgment and consulting with higher administrative agencies.’”
In May, it should have been only natural that the defeat of the prosecutors was already decided. The prosecutors knew that Muraki would be found innocent, but continued the trial without withdrawing their prosecution. Even though a judgment had been handed down, they still continued making comments like this one and haven’t issued even one apology. This incident truly throws into relief the dangerous nature of the investigative methods employed by the investigation team, which were focused on the deposition. They constructed a plot for the incident before a compulsory search, and then gathered evidence that was in line with this scenario and used it to write a deposition. I once again realized the unfairness of the prosecutors by trying to incriminate innocent people if the point of all of this was to attack politicians.
Yet, afterwards there was a new and unprecedented scoop. The headline on the front page of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper on September 21 read, “Did the public prosecutor falsify seized materials?” The newspaper also said that “the Asahi Shimbun newspaper’s investigation has revealed that the floppy disk seized as evidence [in the Muraki case] by the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office’s investigative team may have been falsified. […] While the Asahi Shimbun was researching this case, a person involved with the prosecution said that ‘the head public prosecutor told his colleagues that he had altered the data to fit with the judgment of the investigation.’” The same day, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, fearing the loss of their power to administer justice, “arrested the main public prosecutor of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office’s investigative team on the charge of destruction of evidence.”
Apparently, “the Public Prosecutor’s Office is proceeding to investigate all aspects of this case, given the strong suspicion that data was altered to fit with the prosecutors’ scenario.” The floppy disk in question is one that Kamimura, the former chief clerk, used to hold data including the fabricated certificate. The last date it had been updated was June 1, 2004, and the investigation team wrote an investigative report with this date. As a result, this contradicted the prosecutors’ story in which Muraki ordered Kamimura to issue the certificate in early June, and led to Muraki being judged as innocent. The floppy disk itself was not submitted as evidence, but if it had been submitted, the falsification might have led to the recognition that the certificate was created on June 8 just as the prosecutors outlined. There is even the possibility that this would made have made it more difficult for Muraki to be acquitted. It’s truly amazing how corrupt Japanese prosecutors are.
Yet on the other hand, the investigation of Ichiro Ozawa of the DPJ, who holds a great deal of power, is proceeding exceedingly slowly. Even though three of Ozawa’s secretaries (former secretaries Lower House Diet Member Tomohiro Ishikawa and Mitsutomo Ikeda, and chief public secretary Takanori Okubo) have been arrested, Ozawa has not been forcibly arrested or indicted as in the case of Muraki. Truly the prosecutors’ investigations are both arbitrary and unjust. Ozawa ran in the election for DPJ representative and was thankfully defeated, but the whole idea of him trying to become prime minister was nothing more than a farce.
What is happening to the judicial, legislative, and executive functions in this country? A National Diet member used political subsidies and annual expenditures to serve his own interests, and strove to become prime minister simply to escape being arrested. Prosecutors indicted an innocent person and even falsified evidence to make people believe a scenario they had created themselves. They continued with the trial in spite of the fact that most of their deposition wasn’t accepted as evidence by the court, and are threatening to appeal even though an innocent verdict was handed down. Bureaucrats consider the interests of their ministry first before national interest, hoard treasure, and place preference only on creating high-profile positions for them to retire to. Japan has become an inefficient country with a high cost of living that is a paradise for bureaucrats ? a “bureaucratic state” that was made by bureaucrats, for bureaucrats.
The suspicions directed at Ozawa, the former secretary general of the DPJ, are in an entirely different league from the Muraki case. He committed a heinous crime that could rend the very fabric of our country. Ozawa looks up to Kakuei Tanaka and Shin Kanemaru, and after he seceded from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has established political parties one after another. Then he dissolved the parties that he created and filled his own pockets by usurping the remaining political subsidies for his own political organizations.
I mentioned this in my essay from the March issue of this magazine:
When the Japan Renewal Party (JRP) was dissolved, the amount was 920 million yen. Approximately 500 million yen of this were “legislative administrative fees” provided by the country to the party. When the Liberal Party (LP) was dissolved, the total was 1.36 billion yen, including between 385 million and 560 million yen of public funds provided as political subsidies. Former Minister of Finance Hirohisa Fujii, who resigned in January, was secretary general of the LP and was allegedly involved in this cash flow. There are also rumors that say he was actually being questioned by prosecutors regarding this money when he was supposedly hospitalized for tests at the end of the year. I believe the true reason Fujii resigned from his position as Minister of Finance was because he suspected that Ozawa would be arrested sooner or later. In my opinion, Ozawa’s arrest is inevitable. It’s possible that Ozawa might try to forestall being arrested by resigning as secretary general and stepping away from center stage for some time, choosing instead to reign as the “Shadow Samurai.”
Just as I wrote, Ozawa did resign from his position of secretary general. And now that he has been defeated in his bid to become party president, becoming the “Shadow Samurai” is the only way that he can maintain power in the political world.
In the same issue, I also referred to the so-called “childcare allowance” that was received by Yukio Hatoyama, who stepped down from his position as prime minister in an act of “double suicide” with Ozawa. Something clearly isn’t right in Japan.
Perhaps to avoid inheritance tax, Hatoyama received contributions that had been dispersed and disguised as political contributions under a fictitious name as living donations. In spite of this, his answer to questions in the Diet about funding provided by his mother was, “As far as I know, I believe no such money exists.” Afterwards, he admitted his wrongdoing and paid a gift tax of 575 million yen. But what about paying overdue taxes and heavy additional taxes? If the funds were really used for political campaigning, they far surpass the limit of 1.5 million yen per year allowed for political contributions from an individual. All he did was pay the gift tax on the money he was given, and his greater crimes were overlooked. This is tax evasion and is also a violation of the Political Funds Control Act. If someone is caught for tax evasion and is allowed avoid criminal charges just by insisting “I didn’t know” and paying the taxes afterward, then the concept of tax evasion doesn’t even exist. Furthermore, why doesn’t the National Tax Agency (NTA) perform an investigation in a situation like this one?
It seems fair to say that the mass media’s stance on this case has directly led to the indulgent behavior of the law enforcement authorities and the NTA. Even though there are young people who are working hard in the media, prosecution, and NTA, the upper ranks obstruct their efforts due to their fear of the collapse of the DPJ, which was created by the so-called “Zenkyoto” generation that was active in the student movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. This social structure, which is widespread in Japan, is the exact same one that unanimously criticized former Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami about two years ago.
“Separation of powers” refers to a system in which the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of the government are each independent and serve to check each other. With the addition of the media, which is referred to as the “fourth estate,” double checks should take place. Yet in Japan today, all four of these have become rotten. The reason for this is the mind control that was carried out during the era of the American occupation, which hasn’t faded even sixty-five years after the end of World War II. Right after the war, the United States wanted to prevent Japan from becoming a strong country once again and to cover up their war crimes of firebombing Tokyo and dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were massacres of citizens and thus violated international laws of war. Therefore, the U.S. used the Tokyo Trials to create an image of Japan as being even worse than America.
Furthermore, the U.S. employed many Japanese members of the intelligentsia and paid them large sums of money. They censored all publications and news reports, burned books that praised Japan and had been published before and during the war, and entirely rewrote negative descriptions of the U.S. in such a way as to leave no evidence. After, the members of the intelligentsia that were complicit in this censorship were hailed by society as progressive, cultured persons. However, they were aware of the fact that they had betrayed their country and not one of them confessed to the fact that they had carried out censorship themselves. These intelligentsia members penetrated the ranks of the bureaucracy, the mass media, the political world, and legal circles. They formed a “stealth complex” and created an organization that cooperated to protect its members. In addition, they bent postwar education out of shape and completely erased mentions of Japan’s proud history from textbooks while adding fabrications to attract the interest of the international media, such as the Nanking Massacre and the comfort women issue. This was part of a war of information plotted by China and other parties. Everybody is subjected to mind control, and most citizens have grown up being given incorrect education and listening to incorrect news reports.
Japan’s true strength lies in the awareness that the country itself is a large family headed by the Emperor of Japan. The extended family system used to serve as the base of this country. Long ago, each family had a head of household, and a family-focused society was constructed in which order was maintained by having the oldest son become the next head of the household. These days, that foundation has been destroyed. The fact that we have lost track of so many centenarians is probably caused by the destruction of the family. And the age range with the most missing persons is people in their teens and twenties who have left home and haven’t told their family how to contact them. The nuclear family has given way to the “family of one.” In extreme cases, it’s even normal for a family of four to live separately because the father has been transferred away from home and both children go to school in distant locations. The current reality is that the family has broken down. This doesn’t only increase costs when families live apart and lead to a non-affluent society, but is also the cause of a number of problems that Japan is facing today.
Naoto Kan won the DPJ presidential election by a landslide. To begin with, the Ozawa camp’s criticism of Kan wasn’t right. They said that the DPJ’s overwhelming defeat in the House of Councillors election was caused by Prime Minister Kan’s statements about the consumption tax, but that’s just not true. The defeat is an assessment of the DPJ government over the past year. Besides, what would have happened if Hatoyama hadn’t retired and if the House of Councillors election had been held with Ozawa and Hatoyama in power? Without a doubt, the defeat would have been even more crushing.
Kan raised his approval rating by criticizing Ozawa, and was able to somewhat minimize the defeat in the House of Councillors. It seemed that things would probably be evenly matched for this presidential election in the National Diet and that party members, supporters, and local assembly members would vote for Kan in opposition of Ozawa. However, Kan received 249 points from party members and supporters, 60 points from local assembly members, and 412 points from Diet members for a total of 721 points. In contrast, Ozawa received 51 points from party members and supporters, 40 points from local assembly members, and 400 points from Diet members for a total of 491 points.
Kan was way ahead of Ozawa in the number of votes from party members and supporters, and his victory was decisive. Now, the key issue will be how he handles Ozawa in the future. If Kan appoints Ozawa to a new post, Kan will inevitably face opposition from the anti-Ozawa populace, which is clearly demonstrated by the number of votes from party members and supporters. But if he snubs Ozawa, it’s entirely possible that Ozawa will leave the party, resulting in it becoming divided. After watching the DPJ government for the past year, I feel that we cannot entrust the leadership of Japan to this party for the next three years. I hope that political realignment is carried out very soon, bringing a new era governed by a genuinely conservative leader.
In a country where the three branches of the government aren’t functioning, perhaps it is only expected that previously unprecedented problems are arising such as the issue of missing centenarians and mothers who starve their children. We must immediately revive Japan as a country worthy of pride ? the “noble country” that Albert Einstein once said would rule the world. The innocent verdict in the Muraki case made me aware of this once again.