Prosecutors Raid Japan Welfare Ministry - KyodoNow if you are a prosecutor, you do not put a Director-General on ice unless you really have the goods on him. That the Him in this case is a Her, a pioneer (only the fourth woman to reach director status in the Ministry's history) an expert in the issues affecting working women (she offered testimony in Diet committee session only a week ago) and a tough-minded straight arrow long reputed to be on the fast track for Vice Minister status, then you have better have Amaterasu-damned well have your charges and evidence all lined up in the proper order.
TOKYO -- Prosecutors searched Japan's welfare ministry Monday, a day after a senior ministry official was arrested for her alleged involvement in abusing a mail discount system for the handicapped, Kyodo News reported.
The special investigation squad of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office entered the ministry to search the office of Atsuko Muraki, 53, director general of the ministry's Equal Employment, Children and Families Bureau. Her house in Wako, Saitama Prefecture, was also searched earlier in the day.
She was arrested on suspicion of issuing a fabricated certificate to recognize an organization as a group for the handicapped, thus enabling it to use the mail discount system.
If the prosecutors have proceeded on hearsay evidence, and do not find documentary support for their claims, then Amaterasu help them.
[Amaterasu, please do not help them. This is a rare opportunity for the prosecutors to get the punch in the nose they so deserve.]
The arrest of a Ministry Director-General on a charge of aiding and abetting a sordid little scheme to defraud the post office -- and a forcible search of the Ministry -- are yet two more black eyes for Health, Labour and Welfare (yes, the pension people) and central government bureaucrats in general. In truth, the bureaucracy could not really sink much lower in the public's esteem than it already has. A poll published in the Tokyo Shimbun this weekend found the public even less willing to trust central government bureaucrats (kanryō) than politicians.
I know, I know. I did not think it possible either.
The arrest and search are good news for the Democratic Party of Japan, no matter how events play out. If the prosecutors indeed have the goods on the Director-General, then the DPJ crusade against the rule by the bureaucracy, a policy stance the Prime Minister mocked in his first Diet clash with DPJ party leader Hatoyama Yukio, looks prescient. To have a hotshot DG go down for facilitating petty larceny so close to an election is great P.R. for the party that rails against the evils bureaucrats do. If the charges fall apart and the prosecutor's office is revealed to have overreached based on the flimsiest of accusations, then doubt will be cast on the charges the prosecutors filed against Ōkubo Toshinori, the political secretary of former party leader Ozawa Ichirō.
T'is a win-win proposition for the DPJ, a party already quite perky from the results of Sunday's Chiba City mayoral election.
Unless, of course, the politicians who purportedly leaned on Ministry officials to recognize the fraudulent handicapped group turn out to be members of the DPJ.