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Trade ministry discloses document on obscuring meeting minutes

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is seen in this August 2014 file photo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) on Aug. 30 publicly released an internal document that instructed officials not to record detailed minutes of meetings -- after the Mainichi Shimbun uncovered the document in a recent report.

A ministry official who attended a meeting at which the document was distributed told the Mainichi Shimbun that he was specifically instructed not to leave minutes of the meetings identifying the speakers and their respective remarks. If the instructions were followed, all remarks could be omitted from records.

Commenting on the Aug. 30 Mainichi Shimbun report, an official from the ministry's information systems and welfare division stated, "We have never decided to refrain from leaving records of such meetings. We will properly explain how to leave records at training sessions and other gatherings."

The copy of the document obtained by Mainichi Shimbun instructed ministry officials to dispose of the document on March 27 -- the same day it was distributed at a meeting. But the version that METI made public requires officials to store it until Dec. 31. Commenting on the difference, an official from the division stated, "The document (that the Mainichi Shimbun obtained) was one that was in the process of being created."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference on Aug. 30 that there were no problems with METI's management of internal documents.

(Japanese original by Taiji Mukohata, Special Reports Group, and Shusaku Sugimoto, City News Department)

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