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Senior official removed at Japan's communications ministry over ethics scandal

Yasuhiko Taniwaki, vice minister for policy coordination at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, is seen on March 5, 2021. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Ryota Takeda said on March 8 he has removed Yasuhiko Taniwaki, vice minister for policy coordination at the ministry, from his position, on the grounds it was highly likely he violated ethics regulations for public servants by being wined and dined by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT).

    Taniwaki has been transferred to the minister's secretariat, Takeda told a group of reporters at the ministry. "We repeatedly checked with Taniwaki during a previous investigation whether there were any other actions violating ethics regulations, but in spite of this, actions raising suspicions of a new violation have been uncovered, which is extremely regrettable," Takeda said.

    The ministry has confirmed that Taniwaki dined with NTT representatives three times as reported by a weekly magazine. Of those three occasions, the senior bureaucrat did not pay for meals at two events, even though he had previously told the Diet that he paid all three times.

    Communications minister Takeda said, "It is truly regrettable that a senior official engaged in actions greatly eroding trust in his duties. I once again deeply apologize."

    (Japanese original by Tadashi Sano, Political News Department, and Yusuke Matsukura, Business News Department)

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