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Chinese 'Spy' Attended Parties Held By Japan Ministry
Source: http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20130116-395852.html
Source Date: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: China
Created: Jan 15, 2013

TOKYO - The agriculture ministry spent more than 2 million yen (S$27,500) in public funds to host gatherings connected to a project to promote agricultural product exports to China attended by a former first secretary at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, an alleged spy, it has been learned.

Though the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry has been vague about its involvement in the project and responsibility for its eventual failure, the spending shows the ministry was in fact active in promoting the project.

According to the ministry, seven individuals, including executives from a Chinese state-owned enterprise, visited Japan from Jan. 26 to Jan. 31, 2011, a month after then Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senior Vice Minister Nobutaka Tsutsui went to China to sign a memorandum with the enterprise.

The scheduling of their visit to Japan had been handled by the ministry's International Affairs Department. The visitors went to an agri-industrial facility in Niigata Prefecture, home of Tsutsui's electoral base, and to a shop selling local products in Tokyo. They also watched horse races in a special room at the Tokyo Race Course, administered by the Japan Racing Association, which is under the jurisdiction of the ministry.

On the night of Jan. 26, then agricultural minister Michihiko Kano hosted a welcome party for them at a hotel in Tokyo in which the alleged spy and Cabinet members from other ministries, about 20 in all, participated. The cost - about 640,000 yen (S$8,800) - was paid by the agricultural ministry.

On the 28th, the ministry held a presentation of the project in Tokyo for food wholesalers and others, after which the ministry hosted another party costing about 700,000 yen (S$9,600).

In addition to those parties and events, the ministry provided a bus for the Chinese visitors, driving the total expenses above 2 million yen (S$27,500).

The project was triggered by a Democratic Party of Japan study group set up in August 2010. The plan was to exhibit and sell Japanese agricultural products in Beijing, with the goal of expanding the export value to 500 billion yen (S$6.8 billion) on an annual basis in 2016.

To initiate the project, a steering body tried to export unfumigated rice to China - although fumigation was officially required by Chinese government regulations - with help from the former first secretary. However, the Chinese authorities disposed of the products, saying they did not pass quarantine or for other reasons. The project was then suspended, and there is no prospect of the operator returning the nearly 200 million yen (S$27,500) it collected from companies and other bodies to carry out the project.

The former first secretary, 45, was allegedly involved in the project from the beginning, and may have had access to highly confidential documents containing information on the supply and demand of rice.

As the spy allegations came to light, the ministry released findings from an in-house investigation in June 2012. However, the investigation focused on whether confidential documents were leaked, and the ministry did not reveal details of the visitors from China.

When questioned about the project during the Diet session, the ministry side only said, "We only helped to build a foundation before the private sectors of both nations established a system of their own," emphasizing their view that the private steering body was the main contractor.
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