Government Grilled Over Cherry Blossom Event

Government grilled over cherry blossom event

Japan's opposition camp criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's annual cherry blossom viewing party during a Diet session, questioning his use of a public event for private interests. The chief cabinet secretary said it does not pose a problem.

Takayuki Ochiai of the Constitutional Democratic Party referred to the event at a Lower House plenary session on Tuesday.

He pointed out several hundred Abe supporters were invited from his local constituency, and asked about the government's criteria for inviting guests.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga responded that based on the event's guidelines, the government invites people who have made outstanding achievements in various fields.

He said the guest list is finalized by the Cabinet Secretariat and the Cabinet Office.

Ochiai also asked why the government destroys the list immediately after the party.

Suga said there's no need for the list once the event is over, and that if it were to be kept, it would require storage of a large volume of documents containing personal data. He says the Cabinet Office disposes of the list without delay.

Meanwhile, an opposition party group formed to interrogate the government about the issue held its first meeting.

One of the members asked if Abe's private office is granted a quota of several hundred guests.

An official from the Cabinet Office declined to give an answer, citing the need to protect personal information.