TOKYO, March 8 (Reuters) - Japan's internal affairs minister
removed a senior bureaucrat from his post and apologised on
Monday for what he said could be a breach of the law after an
inquiry showed the official attended meals with officials of
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT).
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's administration has faced
public criticism after the Shukan Bunshun magazine said internal
affairs officials wined and dined with NTT, as well as Suga's
son, an executive at a company that produces television
programmes for satellite broadcasters.
Yasuhiko Taniwaki, the vice-minister for policy
coordination, was transferred to another section after an
investigation by the internal affairs ministry confirmed he had
attended the dinners, with NTT president Jun Sawada, among
"It's regrettable that something that seriously undermines
trust in public affairs has occurred," said Ryota Takeda, the
minister for internal affairs and communications.
Japan's National Civil Service Ethics Law forbids government
employees from receiving gifts or entertainment from individuals
or firms that could be seen to curry favour.
However, a Yomiuri daily poll published on Monday showed
support for Suga's administration outstripping the non-support
rate for the first time since December as new coronavirus cases
Support for Suga's administration rose to 48% in the survey
conducted between March 5 and 7, for an increase of nine
percentage points from the previous month's poll.
A spokesman for NTT, which was previously state-owned,
declined to comment on the case, saying only that it was
considering setting up a third-party panel to investigate.
The internal affairs ministry oversees the telecom and
Suga apologised last week after a key government
spokeswoman, who hailed from the internal affairs ministry and
attended the dinners hosted by Suga's son along with other
Lowering cellphone service charges has been a key policy
goal for Suga.
(Reporting by Daniel Leussink and Chang-ran Kim; Editing by