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Politics

Disgraced Japan ministry officials also dined with NTT president

Two bureaucrats mired in ethics scandal involving Prime Minister Suga's eldest son

The bureaucratic office district in the Kasumigaseki area of Tokyo. (Photo by Kei Higuchi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. said Wednesday that its president dined with communications ministry officials mired in an ethics scandal involving Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's eldest son.

Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported online earlier in the day that NTT President Jun Sawada had treated Makiko Yamada, Yasuhiko Taniwaki and another official to expensive meals.

The ministry said it is looking into the matter.

Yamada, who served as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's press secretary, resigned Monday after drawing fire for lavish dinners with executives of Tohokushinsha Film Corp. including the prime minister's eldest son. The company provides broadcasting services.

Taniwaki, vice minister for policy coordination at the ministry, was reprimanded with a salary reduction of 20% for three months after a ministry probe found he was among officials treated to dinners by Tohokushinsha executives.

The National Public Service Ethics Law prohibits central government officials from receiving favors from stakeholders. Meals expected to cost more than 10,000 yen ($93) must be declared beforehand.

According to the magazine report, Sawada and another NTT executive dined in June last year with Yamada, who was then vice minister for policy coordination at the ministry, and ministry official Eiji Makiguchi.

Sawada footed most of the nearly 200,000 yen dinner bill and the two officials each paid around 10,000 yen.

The NTT president and Taniwaki also dined in September 2018, and the meal cost around 90,000 yen, the magazine reported.

Taniwaki had dinner with former executives of NTT and one of its group companies the same month and in July last year, with the cost of the three meals totaling more than 170,000 yen, according to Shukan Bunshun. Taniwaki did not submit a report on that meal in advance.

He denied being treated to expensive meals by representatives of companies in the communications sector other than Tohokushinsha when he appeared in parliament over the scandal.

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