Japanese prime minister’s son under scrutiny for dinners with officials

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Feb. 18 (UPI) — The eldest son of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is in the spotlight after a local press report alleged Seigo Suga discussed satellite broadcasting during dinners with government officials.

Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun reported Wednesday it has obtained an audio recording of one of the dinners involving Seigo Suga and officials from Japan’s communications ministry.

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In an earlier report this month, the Shukan Bunshun said the officials were given gifts and were in violation of ethical codes.

The audio recording is being reported after some officials said they were do not remember discussing business matters that would help Suga’s company, Tohokushinsha Film.

“I don’t recall Tohokushinsha Film Corp.’s business coming up in conversation,” Yoshinori Akimoto, a director general of a bureau at the communications ministry, had said. On Thursday, Akimoto again denied remembering any discussions of satellite broadcasting.

The audio recording reportedly includes snippets of conversations that include the terms “BS” and “satellite,” however, according to The Yomiuri Shimbun on Thursday.

BS or Nippon BS Broadcasting Corporation is a private satellite broadcasting station. Seigo Suga works at a company operating satellite-broadcasting services, according to Kyodo earlier this month.

Other officials who attended the dinners, described as “expensive” in Japanese reports, have denied discussing business matters that would have helped Suga’s firm.

Communications Minister Ryota Takeda had said Wednesday at a meeting of the Lower House Budget Committee that he did attend a dinner for four people upon the invitation of Tohokushinsha Film, but the dinner had no impact on policy.

Suga’s company was seeking renewal of broadcasting certifications in December, when the dinners were taking place, according to the Mainichi Shimbun on Thursday.

Tohokushinsha’s satellite broadcasting subsidiary owns channels that do not broadcast in high-definition but have been allowed on air despite local regulations. Meanwhile, other channels that met the requirements were rejected by the ministry, according to the Mainichi.