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Answers Pending in Latest LDP Stock Scandal

LDP HQ Long Summer

LDP Headquarters in Nagatacho

By Nobuaki Masaki

SNA (Tokyo) — Lower House lawmaker Takaya Muto tweeted on July 30 that the arguments of students protesting against the security bills “are based on the selfish and extremely egoistic thought of not wanting to go to war.” Since then, his tweet has gone viral in Japan: It was retweeted more than 6500 times and has sparked outrage in the media.

Despite apologizing to the Liberal Democratic Party for “causing trouble,” Muto did not apologize to the people. Instead, on August 4 he stated that he will not be withdrawing his tweet, adding, “Young people are being deceived into thinking that they will go to war if the security bills are passed.”

Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who is the head of the ruling party faction to which Muto belonged, criticized the young lawmaker for making his comments before the security bills are approved in the House of Councillors, saying that they are the “nation’s priority.”

But as the Mainichi Shinbun editorialized, “This suggests that Aso viewed the timing of Muto’s remarks, and not their content, as a problem.”

Muto claims in his blog that the three principles of the Japanese constitution, popular sovereignty, respect for fundamental human rights, and pacifism are all detrimental to the country, saying that “they have destroyed the Japanese spirit.”

Muto quit the LDP on August 19 after allegations of accounting troubles. According to a Shukan Shincho article published on the same day, Muto said that he would buy unlisted stocks and then gain profits before receiving from investors 41 million yen (about US$350,000), but he has neither returned the money to the investors nor bought the stocks.

The involvement of a politician with pre-listed stocks has brought back bad memories of the Recruit Scandal, which led to the resignation of the Noboru Takeshita government in 1989.

Opposition lawmakers, naturally, have pounced on the issue. Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Yukio Edano expressed his discontent, saying, “It is incomprehensible how Muto’s request to leave the LDP was ratified without an investigation.”

Despite repeated requests to disclose information about the case, neither Muto nor the LDP has yet provided additional details. There have even been protests calling for Muto resignation from within his own Shiga 4th District of the House of Representatives

Muto responded on Facebook, however, that he “cannot resign because the allegations are not true.” And yet he has not explained his actions any further than that.

Nobuaki Masaki is a contributing writer to the Shingetsu News Agency.

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