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Japan's digital minister sorry for tech firm stock purchase violating ministerial code

Digital Transformation Minister Takuya Hirai (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Japan's Digital Transformation Minister Takuya Hirai apologized on July 16 over his 2006 purchase of shares of an information technology (IT) company when he was serving as a parliamentary vice minister, an act violating ministerial regulations.

    Hirai told a July 16 news conference following a Cabinet meeting, "I was careless. I would like to apologize."

    According to the minister, he neglected to list his June 2006 stock purchase on financial statements as required under the property disclosure law for Diet members. He first disclosed the purchase in a Cabinet member's financial statement in 2018 when he assumed office as state minister for science and technology, but failed to list the profit he made by selling the stock in March 2020 in an income report. Furthermore, he apparently did not pay tax on the profits from the stock sale. He has reportedly already filed a corrected tax return and is in the process of adjusting the income report.

    In 2006, Hirai was in charge of IT policy as a parliamentary vice minister in the Cabinet Office. Hirai said he went ahead with the purchase out of a "wish to support the company" and "had no intention of hiding it." Ministerial regulations specify that ministers, state ministers and parliamentary vice ministers should refrain from buying stock while in office.

    (Japanese original by Hiryoyuki Oba, Tokyo City News Department and Tsuyoshi Goto, Business News Department)

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