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Saturday, Oct. 1, 2005

Officials need manual to deal with Muneo


Staff writer

The Foreign Ministry has drawn up an instruction manual detailing how bureaucrats should deal with corrupt Lower House member Muneo Suzuki, notorious for his past meddling in ministry affairs, officials said Friday.

Suzuki, a convicted bribe-taker trying to appeal a prison term and head of the Sapporo-based New Party Daichi, was especially renowned for his strident influence on policymaking matters related to Russia; he pressured the ministry to limit the bidding for a construction project on a Russian-held island off Hokkaido to firms in his constituency.

According to the instruction manual, ministry officials should not dine with Suzuki even if they are invited to do so. They should also consult the administrative bureau if the lawmaker "expresses a strong opinion" on policy matters.

The manual also instructs officials not to differentiate between Suzuki and other lawmakers in the event that he asks for explanations of specific diplomatic policies. Ministry officials should keep records of any exchanges with Suzuki and report to senior officials afterward, the manual says.

"Some of the ministry officials asked the administrative bureau for instructions on what they should do when Mr. Suzuki contacts the ministry," a senior ministry official said.

Takahiro Asano, Suzuki's secretary, said his office was considering how to deal with the manual.

In November, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Suzuki to two years for receiving 5 million yen in bribes from a lumber firm in exchange for securing favorable treatment from the Forestry Agency.



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