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Finance Ministry official’s widow files suit for disclosure of Moritomo papers

The widow of a former Finance Ministry official has filed a lawsuit requesting the disclosure of documents submitted to prosecutors by the ministry over a high-profile public records-tampering scandal.

The lawsuit, filed Friday with the Osaka District Court, calls for a reversal of the ministry’s decision not to disclose the documents. The suit was launched by Masako Akagi, 50, whose husband, Toshio, killed himself at the age of 54 in 2018 over the scandal involving the ministry and school operator Moritomo Gakuen, once linked to the wife of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

If the documents are disclosed, the widow plans to use them in her damages lawsuit filed against the government over the scandal.

Speaking at a news conference in the city of Osaka, Akagi said that the events leading up to an instruction for the records to be tampered with remained unclear in the “Akagi file” documents that were disclosed in June. The file was compiled by her husband during his time with the ministry’s Kinki Local Finance Bureau and focuses on the discount sale of a state-owned plot of land to Moritomo Gakuen.

“I’d like to know what really happened,” the widow said, adding that she will not be able to move on without uncovering what she said was the truth.

In August, she asked the ministry to release information surrounding the incident and how it handled her husband’s objection to the record-tampering.

The ministry decided on Oct. 11 not to disclose the documents submitted voluntarily to prosecutors without confirming their existence, saying that the documents were related to an investigation on the scandal.

The investigation by the special squad of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office against ministry officials and others who were accused of drawing up false public records, ended in 2019, with the prosecutors deciding not to indict them following a similar decision by an Osaka prosecution inquest panel.

Teruyuki Ogoshi, a lawyer representing the widow, said that the ministry “should be the investigatee, and not the investigator.”

The ministry “should not be able to reject the disclosure” of the documents, Ogoshi added.

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