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Japan: In the shadows of influence

A scandal that had been brewing for months came to a head last week when former Vice Defense Minster Moriya Takemasa [ja] and his wife, suspected of having received 3.89 million yen worth of bribes from former defense equipment trader Miyazaki Motonobu [ja] of Yamada Corporation, were arrested [ja] by the Special Investigation Squad of the Tokyo District Prosecutors Office. Moriya earlier admitted under oath to having played golf more than 200 times with Miyazaki over the past 12 years, according to Miyazaki (in testimony since revoked) treated to these outings in return for special treatment in defense contracting. Rumor has it that Moriya “often spoke up forNihon Mirise, the company Miyazaki established in September of 2006 after leaving Yamada, notably in the case of the procurement of engines for the Kawasaki C-X transport aircraft.

As if this story were not already complex enough, Moriya has admitted to having burned all of his records, making it harder to substantiate bribery allegations. Among the more extreme of these allegations are stories that Yamada Corp. had an agreement with the Defense Department specifying that for every 1 billion yen in sales from military contracts Yamada would hire one retired ministry official or military officer, a variant of a well-known practice in Japan known as amakudari. A panel has been convened in an attempt to clean up the Defense Ministry, with the scandal since having spread to other high-ranking defense chiefs and the relocation of the US armed forces in Okinawa now under investigation [ja] for related reasons.

What seemed to surprise some bloggers most about the recent arrest of the Moriyas was that not only Moriya himself was arrested, but that — a rare occurrence in Japan — his wife was arrested as well. Miyazaki in fact claims that, while husband Moriya was playing golf with defense contractors, Miyazaki himself was wining and dining the Defense Minister's wife Sachiko.

At blog_news, one blogger writes:

奥さんも逮捕ですか。
けど人生、子供から大人までどんなところでも接待は必須ですね。
まぁ金がからむとこうなっちゃいますけど。
平和な生活を得るためには人のご機嫌とっていかないと難しい世の中です。
それで心も豊かになればいいんですが。

So his wife was also arrested?
Well in life, from childhood to adulthood, business entertainment seems to be everywhere indispensable, doesn't it?
You get entangled with money and this is what happens.
To live a peaceful life, it's a difficult world if you don't kiss some ass.
It would be nice if people could attain a richness of spirit, but…

Blogger blogkaze describes their reaction to the news:

最初、夫人も逮捕されたと聴いた時、『きっと何かの間違いだ』と思った。日本人は夫人が夫と近い線に並んで仕切る節があることを嫌うからだ。だから、『この奥さんは有能な人で、何かと夫を支えることを表に出し、それが誤解を招いたのではないか』と思ったのだ。

At first, when I heard that Moriya's wife was also arrested, I thought: “There must be a mistake.” Because Japanese people don't like it when women line up close to their husband and take control of the occasion. I thought to myself, therefore, that: “She is a capable woman, trying to demonstrate her support for her husband, and that invited a misunderstanding.”

While some bloggers [ja] felt that the media should be focusing so much on this issue, others dug deeper and argued that there was much more that the wasn't being revealed. Blogger YOU starts his post on the topic with a quote from a Nikkei article [ja] about the arrests:

 守屋前次官と妻逮捕、389万円収賄容疑・東京地検

Former Vice-Minister Moriya and his wife arrested, suspected of accepting 3.89 million yen in bribes: Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office

 守屋武昌前防衛事務次官(63)が在任中、防衛専門商社「山田洋行」元専務、宮崎元伸容疑者(69)から職務にからむわいろとして、妻とともに計 389万円相当のゴルフ旅行接待を受けたとして、東京地検特捜部は28日、守屋容疑者と妻、幸子容疑者(56)を収賄容疑で逮捕した。特捜部は、守屋容疑者が防衛装備品調達などで宮崎容疑者が有利になるよう様々な便宜を図ったとみて、防衛利権の不正解明を進める。…

While holding his post in office, former Vice Defense Minister Moriya Takemasa (63), as well as his wife, Moriya Sachiko (56), are suspected of receiving 3.89 million yen worth of golf outings and business entertainment from Miyazaki Motonobu, former managing director of the defence trading corporation “Yamada Corporation”, as bribes related to professional services. Under these suspicions, the Tokyo District Prosecutors Office Special Investigation Squad arrested Moriya and his wife on November 28th. The Special Investigation Squad is looking over the various ways in which Moriya conferred advantages to Miyazaki in defence equipment provisioning and is making progress towards uncovering improprieties in military concessions. […]

The blogger then comments:

国会では、守屋容疑者と額賀氏の証人喚問をめぐって、自民・民主で、どろどろした攻防が続いている。宴席に参加したかどうかという話だけにとどまらず、CXの導入も含め、軍事利権をめぐる本質に議論と解明がすすんでほしいものだ。その先には、もっと大きな「闇」があるのだから。

In the National Diet, a messy tug-of-war between the Liberal Democratic Party [LDP] and Democratic Party of Japan [DPJ] continues regarding the summoning of the witnesses Moriya [Takemasa] and [LDP member] Nukaga [Fukushiro]. I wish they would extend their discussion and clarifications, however, beyond the question of whether they joined the banquet, to [issues] regarding the essential nature of military concessions, including the [deal to] introduce the Kawasaki C-X. Because beyond these things, there is a greater “darkness” hiding.

 ただ、この守谷逮捕をめぐっては、かなり構造的な問題がいろいろな角度から光があたりはじめているのも事実。

However, it is also a fact that, with the arrest of Moriya, structural problems are beginning to receive considerable illumination from various angles.

 たとえば、『FACTA』というネット雑誌の2007年12月号の [「軍略」探照灯]で、 田岡俊次さんが、おもしろいことを書いている。

 まず、守屋のようなタイプの官僚が、防衛庁のなかで実力をもつにいたったかの背景について、「政府委員制度」廃止の弊害という指摘をしている。政治家優位の状況下では官僚の仕事の中で、法律論に強い官僚より、根回しの実力派が組織内で力を持つようになり、新しく政官財の癒着の温床が生まれたということだ。

First, regarding the power of bureaucrats like Moriya within the Japan Defense Agency, [Taoka] points to the harmful effects of the abolishment of the “governmental commission system”. In the situation where the position of politicians is advantaged, in the world of bureaucratic work, those who hold the power within organizations are not those with strength in legal arguments, but rather those with strength in behind-the-scenes maneuvering. It is among this group that new breeding grounds for cozy relationships of bureaucratic wealth are born.

 田岡氏の文章のなかでもうひとつ注目したいのは、もちろんこれまでも指摘されていることだが、山田洋行が防衛庁にパイプをつくるうえで、かつて自衛隊の幹部だった田村秀昭(航空幕僚監部装備部長や航空自衛隊幹部学校長を歴任)元参議院議員だったこと。宮崎氏は彼の有力な後援者であったわけで、守屋氏が山田洋行と結びつく過程には、田村氏の仲介はなかったのか?という点。田村氏といえば、かつても防衛庁汚職の際には名前が出た議員でもある。そして、大事なことは、その田村氏は、小沢一郎民主党代表の、「2番機」と言われるような経歴の持ち主であることだ(新生党―新進党―自由党―民主党と行動を共にした。最後は国民新党)。

Another point that I want to emphasize in Takao's article, and this has already been indicated of course, is the fact that, in creating the channel between Yamada corporation and the Defense Agency, former member of the House of Councilors Tamura Hideaki was then a senior officer in the Self-Defense Forces (he held successive posts as director of the equipment department of the JASDF Air Staff Office and director of the JASDF Staff College). Miyazaki was Tamura's influential backer, and so is it not possible that, in the process which brought Moriya and Miyazaki together, Tamura was the one who introduced them? As a member of the Diet, Tamura's name once appeared in connection with corruption in the Self-Defense Forces. Further, what is significant is that, in Mr. Tamura's personal career, he was once referred to as the “Number 2″ to Ozawa Ichiro, representative of the Democratic Party of Japan (Japan Renewal Party – New Frontier Party – Liberal Democratic Party – Democratic Party of Japan, he contributed to all of these. The last one is the People's New Party.)

The blogger ends his post with a warning about the opposition Democratic Party of Japan:

 どうも政官財の癒着には、民主党の影もちらつく。民主党はみずから、そういった影に光をあてるべきだ。

Somehow, in the cozy relationships of the government, bureaucrats, and the business community, the shadow of the Democratic Party also lurks. The Democratic Party itself should shine a light on this shadow.

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