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Finance Ministry worker linked to Moritomo deal told family of troubles before suicide

The Kinki Local Finance Bureau is seen in Osaka's Chuo Ward in this June 2017 file photo. (Mainichi)

A Finance Ministry official who took his own life while belonging to a department that handled the heavily discounted sale of state-owned land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen had complained that his "common sense" had been destroyed, his family revealed to news organizations on March 12.

The employee at the Kinki Local Finance Bureau, the Kansai region arm of the Finance Ministry, was found dead at his home in Kobe on March 7, amid allegations that the ministry had altered documents pertaining to the murky land sale. Five days later, the ministry publicly admitted to altering dozens of passages in the documents in question.

"I suspect that he was forced to do what he was not really supposed to. I hope everything will be revealed. I don't want his death to be wasted," the family member told the Mainichi Shimbun and other media outlets. The relative said they did not know the details of the deceased man's job and whether he left a suicide note.

According to the kin, the employee joined the Finance Ministry after graduating from a university's night school while working for a company. In August last year, he told his family over the phone, "I'm worn out both mentally and physically. I can't sleep at night. It's been tough as I've been working 100 hours overtime a month. My common sense has been destroyed." The man added that he was seeing a doctor about his troubles.

"He had a strong sense of responsibility and hated to do anything unfair. He was hard on himself but never blamed others. I wish they could have protected someone like him who was doing his job decently," the family member said.

In a related development, the Board of Audit of Japan revealed during a hearing by opposition parties on March 12 that it has been in possession of three sets of doctored documents concerning the Moritomo land sale that were submitted by the Finance Ministry at the time of auditing last year.

The audit board noticed that the content of the documents submitted by the Finance Ministry and the ones filed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism over the same land deal was different. Asked about the matter, the Finance Ministry was quoted as telling the board that the ministry's documents were "the final version."

According to the board, the Finance Ministry papers comprised two sets of documents on a land lease contract and one document on a land sale contract. Even though audit board officials had realized that there were two versions of the documents during auditing, they ended up completing the audit based on the altered version in compliance with the Finance Ministry's assertion.

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