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Thursday, March 23, 2006

CRITICS NOT SATISFIED

Nagata regrets false allegations


Staff writer

House of Representatives member Hisayasu Nagata apologized Wednesday to the Lower House Disciplinary Committee over false allegations he made last month, based on a faked e-mail that suggested shady financial links between Livedoor Co. founder Takafumi Horie and a son of Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe.

News photo
Lower House member Hisayasu Nagata raises his hand to speak during a Disciplinary Committee session.

Committee chief Tetsundo Iwakuni of the Democratic Party of Japan, however, expressed dissatisfaction with Nagata's apology and his explanation of how it happened.

"He still did not reveal the name of the middleman, who has already been identified (outside the Diet), to the Disciplinary Committee," Iwakuni told reporters after the session. "As a Diet member, it is common sense to thoroughly explain (the facts) to the members of the committee who are there on behalf of the Lower House, the representatives of the public."

The middleman, allegedly a freelance reporter, acted as a go-between for Nagata and the information source, supposedly a former employee of Livedoor. Neither of the latter were named.

Nagata told the committee he trusted the middleman completely, although he had only known the person since October. Nagata also claimed the middleman did not ask for any money for the information, nor did Nagata give him any financial compensation.

"Had I any doubt over the credibility of the e-mail, I would never have brought it up at the budget committee." Nagata said. "I never dreamed that the e-mail was fake."

Diet members are exempt from libel laws over statements made during Diet sessions.

The ruling LDP submitted a motion to the Disciplinary Committee against Nagata for the allegations, which he made at a Feb. 16 budget committee meeting, reading aloud what he claimed was an e-mail from Horie ordering a Livedoor employee to send 30 million yen to Takebe's son.

Under the Diet Law, the committee can issue a reprimand, order a public apology, suspend, or expel members for rules violations. Nagata has agreed to comply with whatever decision it hands down. The DPJ has suspended Nagata's membership for six months over the fiasco, but has not asked him to give up his Diet seat.

DPJ Diet affairs chief Kozo Watanabe later told reporters the decision whether to resign was Nagata's.

"If (he) concludes that there is no need to resign, he should not have to, no matter who says he should," Watanabe said. "On the other hand, if he feels true remorse toward the general public, he should resign, even if everyone tries to stop him."



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