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Controversial billboard promoting book by minister Katayama whitened out

A building where a billboard promoting a book authored by regional revitalization minister Satsuki Katayama had been installed, is seen in Saitama's Urawa Ward on Nov. 19, 2018. (Mainichi/Kaoru Yamadera)
A billboard for regional revitalization minister Satsuki Katayama is seen in Saitama's Urawa Ward, north of Tokyo, in this Nov. 7, 2018 file photo. The sign refers to her as a member of the House of Councillors and features the cover of a book she authored. (Mainichi/Shu Hatakeyama)

SAITAMA -- A billboard that promoted a book authored by regional revitalization minister Satsuki Katayama has been whitened out after it was found to have violated a city ordinance for outdoor advertising.

The billboard in the city of Saitama's Urawa Ward, north of Tokyo, had drawn controversy as it allegedly violated the Public Offices Election. The sign referred to Katayama as a member of the House of Councillors and featured the cover of a book she authored.

According to the Saitama Municipal Government, after questions were raised about the billboard in Diet deliberations, it turned out that Katayama hadn't filed for permission for setting up the sign based on the city ordinance. The billboard was subsequently rendered white sometime before Nov. 19 after the city pointed out the problem.

Katayama had denied the political nature of the billboard during an upper house Budget Committee session on Nov. 7, saying that it was set up by a publisher and others in January 2016. "It was for advertising the book and was not intended for political activities."

A representative of Katayama's office released a comment stating, "In our understanding, it is the job of the contractor that installed the billboard to file an application for permission to set up the object. After the municipal government and the land owner discussed the matter, the latter contacted us saying they wanted to remove the whole billboard."

(Japanese original by Tomoko Mimata, Saitama Nishi Bureau and Koichi Uchida, Saitama Bureau)

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