VOX POPULI: Prosecutors may have chilled politicians who agree to backdoor deals
The job of prosecutors is to fight against injustice in the world, while their performance is monitored by an investigative committee of the prosecution.
Are we to believe that this system worked as it should, when the prosecutors, pressed by an investigative panel of the prosecution, decided to indict 34 people, including members of the local assembly of the Hiroshima prefecture? ?
These people accepted money from former justice minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his wife, Anri, during an Upper House campaign for Anri three years ago. But only the Kawais have been charged with vote-buying in violation of the Public Office Elections Act.
Predictably, the prosecutors’ decision not to charge the corrupt was questioned by a group of citizens. And just as predictably, a Public Prosecutor’s Inquiry Committee ruled that 35 of the bribe takers should be charged.
Prosecutors deserved the embarrassment of having to be told by the panel to do what they should have done in the first place.
Could it be that their game plan was to secretly promise local politicians immunity from prosecution if they would cooperate with the investigation, but the scheme somehow backfired?
Even so, it is inconceivable that these seasoned prosecutors would fully interpret potential developments.
According to an article in the March 15 issue of The Asahi Shimbun, the outcome was actually exactly what prosecutors had in mind. Their plan in the first place, it seems, was to indict the corrupt only if the prosecution’s investigative committee said so.
It can be said that the prosecutors used outside pressure to double-cross these corrupt. Their game plan was not sloppy but sneaky and clever.
Of the 34 people indicted, the 25 who have admitted their guilt only face a summary indictment, which spares them a court appearance.
I can’t help but wonder if the prosecutors could also have calculated that since the scandal is already 3 years old, their leniency would not elicit any criticism.
Prosecutors may well argue that some trickery is required when trying to bring down high-profile politicians. But I don’t think anyone will take a back door deal like this with prosecutors in the future.
It’s not a ploy that can work over and over.
–The Asahi Shimbun, March 16
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that covers a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran writers from Asahi Shimbun, the column offers helpful perspectives and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.