No indictment over dining scandal involving ex-PM Suga’s son

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Public prosecutors on Tuesday decided not to indict 12 people, including former senior communications ministry officials, over a wining-and-dining scandal involving the first son of former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office concluded that there were insufficient or no grounds for charging them.

The decision came after a civic group filed criminal complaints against the 12 people in April and June last year.

The group claimed that seven then ministry officials were treated to dinners worth a total of some ¥300,000 between August 2017 and October 2020 by Suga’s son, Seigo, who works for Tohokushinsha Film Corp. , as well as a former president of the company and others.

The group argued that the dinners were aimed at receiving favorable treatment from the ministry, such as overlooking a violation of foreign ownership rules and giving broadcast permissions.

Among the 12 people who escaped indictment were Suga himself. When he was chief cabinet secretary in October 2018, Suga was alleged to have received ¥500,000 in cash from a former Tohokushinsha president after asking a senior ministry official to tolerate the company’s violation of the foreign ownership rules.

In October last year, a third-party panel set up by the ministry said in a report that it is highly likely that the ministry did not revoke Tohokushinsha’s broadcasting license despite recognizing its violation of the rules.

Meanwhile, the panel noted that it could not confirm that talks on the matter were held during the dinners.