Abe denies allegations over party guests
NHK -- Dec 03
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the list of guests invited to an annual cherry blossom-viewing party in April was disposed of as scheduled and denied that it was related to a disclosure request by an opposition lawmaker.

Abe made the remarks while replying to a question from a member of his Liberal Democratic Party in the Upper House on Monday.

The Cabinet Office said it shredded the documents containing the long list of more than 15,000 guests in the afternoon of May 9. The shredding came shortly after a Communist Party lawmaker asked the office for the list.

Opposition parties say party guests included some dubious figures, including the former chairman of a health equipment company. The failed company, Japan Life, is suspected of fraudulent business programs.

Abe said the shredding of the documents was scheduled for May 9 after taking into account the availability of large shredding equipment and the schedule of officials in charge.

He also said he has been informed that the digital data cannot be restored. But he indicated that the government will consider changing the period of time for which lists are kept.

An opposition lawmaker said it is believed that Japan Life's former chairman, Masayoshi Yamaguchi, was among guests recommended by Abe for the cherry-blossom viewing party in 2015. He asked why Yamaguchi was invited the year after the company had received administrative guidance from the Consumer Affairs Agency to correct its business practices.

He also asked whether Abe and his wife know Yamaguchi.

Abe refused to answer, saying that he cannot comment on individual cases as they concern personal information. But he said he does not deny the possibility that he had attended gatherings at which Yamaguchi was also present, and added neither he nor his wife have met him one-on-one. He also denied having any personal relationship with the businessman.

Abe referred to the opposition's allegation that Japan Life used the party invitation sent to Yamaguchi to solicit customers. Abe said that generally speaking, it's unacceptable for the cherry-blossom party to be exploited for illegal or unlawful activities by individuals or companies.

News source: NHK
Dec 14
A court sentenced a former policeman to death Friday for choking his wife and two children to death at their home in Fukuoka Prefecture in June 2017 in a case devoid of confessions or hard evidence. (Japan Times)
Dec 13
The first of the two kanji characters used in Japan's new imperial era name, "Reiwa," has been chosen as Kanji of the Year. (NHK)
Dec 12
A former top bureaucrat at the farm ministry admitted Wednesday to killing his socially reclusive son, during the first day of his high-profile trial in Tokyo. (Japan Times)
Dec 12
Japan's environment minister has suggested his country has no plans to change its coal-fired power generation policy soon. Shinjiro Koizumi was speaking at the UN climate change summit in Spain. (NHK)
Dec 12
An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.2 struck northern Hokkaido early Thursday and measured lower 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7, Japan's weather agency said. (Japan Today)
Dec 12
A recent online survey has found that 1 in 10 in Japan identify as LGBT or another sexual minority. (Japan Times)
Dec 11
Japanese scientist Akira Yoshino accepted the Nobel Prize in chemistry on Tuesday at a ceremony in Sweden for his contribution to the development of lithium-ion batteries. (Japan Times)
Dec 11
A former Japanese defense chief has been shot in the leg near his home in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, Sankei newspaper reported on Tuesday citing police sources. (Japan Today)
Dec 11
Russia may be banned from the next two Olympics but the door is open for Russian participation at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games if athletes can meet the rigid criteria laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). (Japan Today)
Dec 11
Police referred a 17-year-old high school student and two men to prosecutors on Tuesday over their alleged involvement in the online trading of uranium in violation of Japanese law regulating nuclear materials. (Japan Today)