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Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007

Nukaga denies Yamada donation, admits selling party tickets

Staff writer

Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga once again denied Monday wining and dining with former Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya and a disgraced former executive of defense equipment trader Yamada Corp.

Nukaga, appearing before an Upper House committee, also denied he received a donation from Yamada but admitted he sold party tickets worth a total of ¥2.2 million to Yamada between 2002 and 2007, all of which he said he returned when the scandal broke.

Nukaga explained that the parties were "small with only about 100 people" and were morning working groups in which the participants considered policies together.

"I think a donation and party tickets are two completely different things," Nukaga explained. Parties "are organized by political (support) groups and the profits are used for political activities, while a donation is a one-way profit."

Nukaga said he checked but found no records and has no recollection of being present at a dinner party with Moriya and Motonobu Miyazaki, the former Yamada executive now under arrest for alleged embezzlement.

"I spent day and night looking into (past records) . . . but have found that I did not attend" such parties, Nukaga claimed.

On Thursday, Moriya told a different Upper House committee that he thought two former defense ministers — Nukaga and Fumio Kyuma — wined and dined with Miyazaki on separate occasions.

Media reports have also revealed that Miyazaki himself has admitted to meeting with Nukaga at the dinner party.

"I don't think (people) should lie . . . (and) my honest feeling, truthfully, is that I want to tell the public the truth," Nukaga said. "If possible, I would like (someone) to tell me when and where (the party was held)."

Both Nukaga and Kyuma have denied the allegations.

In sworn testimony, Moriya mentioned last Thursday that he thought he was present at a dinner party with Nukaga, Miyazaki and James Auer, an ex-U.S. Pentagon official.

Nukaga, however, said he heard through his lawyer that Auer has denied ever having dined together.

Moriya, 63, retired as the top defense bureaucrat at the end of August. He could be charged with perjury if he is found to have made false statements in his Diet testimony.

"When I heard Moriya testify . . . my impression was that there were some areas where (Moriya) was not completely sure," Nukaga said.

Moriya has been under fire for being lavished with expensive dinners and hundreds of golf outings by Miyazaki, who was arrested Nov. 8 on suspicion of embezzling some ¥117 million from Yamada while allegedly obtaining a huge slush fund through the firm's U.S. subsidiary.

Investigators also suspect that Moriya gave preferential treatment to Yamada regarding business with the Defense Ministry.

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The Japan Times

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