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Thursday, Oct. 20, 2005

Suzuki spars with Foreign Ministry


Staff writer

A second round of fighting between House of Representatives lawmaker Muneo Suzuki and the Foreign Ministry appears to have broken out as the once-disgraced politician steps up his criticism of the ministry he clashed with three years ago.

During a news conference Wednesday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Suzuki criticized the Foreign Ministry for leaking documents on Japan's aid to the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido to the media in 2002, saying they are "falsified."

"None of them became (criminal) cases," he said.

At the time, Suzuki was said to wield considerable influence over the Foreign Ministry's policymaking process. He was also attacked for allegedly manipulating bids for government-backed construction projects on Kunashiri, on of the Russian-held islands.

Revelations over Suzuki's dealings with the ministry made headlines almost daily at the time, which eventually led him to leave the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He was arrested in June 2002 and convicted of receiving 5 million yen in bribes from a lumber company in his constituency in Hokkaido. The case is currently under appeal.

After Suzuki's return to politics in last month's general election, the Foreign Ministry drafted a manual for its staff members on how they should deal with Suzuki, including a warning not to dine with the lawmaker.

"I haven't the slightest intention to have a row with the Foreign Ministry," said Suzuki, commenting on the manual. "They should use their energy to break the diplomatic deadlock Japan is facing and not waste it on me."

Suzuki also said he will make efforts to slash "waste" in the bureaucracy, including the salaries of Foreign Ministry officials stationed overseas.



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The Japan Times

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