Japan

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented the law effectively. Officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices.

Independent academic experts stated that ties among politicians, bureaucrats, and businesspersons were close, and corruption remained a concern. NGOs continued to criticize the practice of retired senior public servants taking high-paying jobs with private firms that relied on government contracts. There were regular media reports of investigations into financial and accounting irregularities involving high-profile politicians and government officials.

Several government agencies were involved in combating corruption, including the NPA and the National Tax Administration Agency. In addition, the Fair Trade Commission enforces anti-monopoly law to prevent unreasonable restraint of trade and unfair business practices, such as bid rigging. The Japan Financial Intelligence Center is responsible for preventing money laundering and terrorist financing. The National Public Services Ethics Board polices public servants suspected of ethics violations. The Board of Audit monitors the accounts of corporations in which the government is a majority shareholder. Anticorruption agencies generally operated independently, effectively, and with adequate resources, although some experienced staffing shortfalls.

Corruption: While the media reported allegations that Prime Minister Abe might have attempted to influence government decisions in favor of two educational institutions, Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Gakuen, run by his or his wife’s friends, the prime minister categorically denied involvement in the government’s decisions.

On September 11, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office indicted former Yamanashi City mayor Seiki Mochizuki for accepting bribes in exchange for forging a public document to secure a municipal job for the child of a former local education official. The prosecution also indicted the former local official and former Yamanashi City treasurer Hakudo Takizawa on bribery charges in the same case.

Financial Disclosure: The law requires members of the Diet to disclose publicly their income and assets (except for ordinary savings), including ownership of real estate, securities, and transportation means. The law requires governors, prefectural assembly members, mayors, and assembly members of 20 major cities to disclose their incomes and assets based on their local ordinances but does not require assembly members of the remaining approximately 1,720 municipalities to do the same. There are no penalties for false disclosure. The law does not apply to nonelected officials. NGOs and media criticized the law as lax. Separately, the cabinet-approved code provides that cabinet ministers, senior vice-ministers, and parliamentary vice-ministers publicly disclose their, their spouses’, and their dependent children’s assets.

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