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Finance Ministry to conclude ex-senior official Sagawa would have deserved suspension

In this March 27, 2018 file photo, Nobuhisa Sagawa, former head of the Finance Ministry's Financial Bureau, listens as Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan legislator Seiji Osaka asks questions at a House of Representatives Budget Committee. Sagawa appeared before the panel as a sworn witness over the favoritism scandal involving Moritomo Gakuen school corporation. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The Finance Ministry is likely to announce that former senior official Nobuhisa Sagawa would have deserved suspension from duty over the doctoring of internal documents on the heavily discounted sale of state land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

The ministry is set to recognize that Sagawa, former head of the ministry's Financial Bureau, had effectively instructed some of his subordinates to doctor the documents.

However, the ministry cannot take any punitive measure against Sagawa under the National Public Service Act because he has already left office. Instead, the amount of Sagawa's remuneration that would have been withheld if he were suspended from duty will be deducted from his retirement allowance.

Moreover, the ministry is considering suspending Minoru Nakamura, director of the bureau's Planning and Administration Division, for a fixed period in connection with the scandal.

The Finance Ministry will on June 4 release a report on its in-house investigation into the document doctoring and announce punitive measures against officials involved, following the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office's decision not to indict Sagawa and others over the case.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife Akie had been named honorary principal of the elementary school Osaka-based Moritomo had planned to open on the property in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, and the sale has been subject to allegations of favoritism. It emerged earlier this year that Finance Ministry documents regarding the sale had been altered, including omitting references to Akie and to prominent politicians.

Despite the land sale scandal, Sagawa was later promoted to head the National Tax Agency, but subsequently resigned.

(Japanese original by Wataru Okubo, Business News Department, and Shinya Hamanaka, Political News Department)

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