November 25, 2017

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Former TPP Chief Negotiator Allegedly Receives Bribes

In its January 20 issue, Shukan Bunshun reported that MP Akira Amari, who worked as Japan’s chief negotiator for the TPP, received bribes of at least 12,000,000 yen (approximately 102,000 USD) from a man by the name of Isshiki Takeshi who works at a construction company. One of the unique things about this incident is that the person who leaked the evidence has publicly revealed himself. His name is published in the Bunshun stories and he has accepted interviews requests from two major newspapers, Sankei Shimbun and Asahi Shimbun in the two weeks after the first reports of the scandal in Shukan Bunshun.  The report presents a lot of evidence, such as 50 hours of audio recordings of conversations between the contractor, Amari and Amari’s secretary, secretly taken photos, and numerous documents. According to the contractor, 12,000,000 yen is the amount for which he has tangible evidence but the actual amount that is more than that. On January 28, Amari held a press conference and admitted that he received up to one million yen, and resigned as a government minister. The scandal has been reported by foreign media outlets such as the BBC and the New York Times. BBC World news reporter Mariko Oi reported that “this is possibly the biggest scandal the Abe administration has faced.”

Within the LDP, there are some members who have expressed sympathy for Amari, claiming that he was framed, and that all evidence was gathered with the intention of setting him up. They claim as evidence the fact that the recordings and photos were taken in secret. Among those, some have pointed out that the person who provided the photos and recordings to the magazine had been a member of a right-wing organization affiliated with a major Japanese gang and questioned the legitimacy of the person. However, in the February 11 issue of Shunkan Bunshun, Isshiki stated that he just captured routine activities.

The investigative team from the Tokyo Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Isshiki’s statement that Amari intervened in the negotiation between Isshiki’s construction company and the Urban Renaissance Agency. According to Isshiki, he paid 500,000 yen (approximately 4300 USD) twice to Amari as a token of gratitude for the intervention, and Isshiki stated that Amari’s secretary told Isshiki that 500,000 yen was required for the intervention.

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