Japan Min. Grilled Over Bribery Report

Japan Min. Grilled Over Bribery Report

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's economy minister was grilled in parliament Thursday by opposition lawmakers over a report that he accepted bribes from a construction company. He denied any wrongdoing and promised an investigation.

The Weekly Bunshun magazine reported that Economy and Fiscal Minister Akira Amari and his aides allegedly accepted at least 12 million yen ($103,000) in cash and hospitality from the company over the past three years.

The magazine said the money was in exchange for the Amari office's help in settling a dispute between the company, identified only as "S'' and a housing development organization.

Amari is one of the most trusted members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet and served Japan's top negotiator in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

He does not face a criminal investigation.

In parliament, Amari acknowledged visits by officials from the company at his office, but he said he did not remember any details. Some opposition lawmakers heckled him and demanded his resignation.

"I will have the case thoroughly investigated so I can be accountable," Amari told the Upper House audit committee. "My reaction was that had something like this been really going on? I suspect this could be fiction."

The magazine said that on one occasion, a construction company employee met with Amari in his office in November 2013, handing him an envelope containing 500,000 yen in cash and an expensive Japanese sweet called youkan.

(KA)