Photo/IllutrationInternal affairs minister Seiko Noda responds to questions from reporters at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on July 20. (Shun Matsumoto)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Internal affairs minister Seiko Noda was tipped off about The Asahi Shimbun’s information disclosure request for a story about her suspected meddling in a Financial Services Agency (FSA) investigation.

Noda on July 20 admitted she received the leaked information about the newspaper’s information disclosure request--before it was approved by the FSA--and revealed the contents to reporters of other media organizations.

“I heard that a request for information disclosure had been made concerning my office’s activities, and I talked about it in an unofficial meeting (with reporters) as a topic,” she said at a news conference held after a Cabinet meeting.

The internal affairs ministry is in charge of issues related to the Information Disclosure Law, putting it in a position to enforce rules against leaking the contents of such requests.

However, Noda’s office did not respond to several requests made by The Asahi Shimbun from mid-June to explain the leak of the information disclosure request.

She addressed the issue for the first time at the July 20 news conference.

On May 2, The Asahi Shimbun asked the FSA for records of a Jan. 30 meeting between a member of Noda’s office and an FSA official about regulations on cryptocurrencies.

The FSA at that time was investigating a company that had been warned by the agency about illegal practices in its cryptocurrency-related business.

The Asahi Shimbun had obtained information that Noda’s office allowed a representative of that same company to attend the Jan. 30 meeting, and the information discourse request was made to obtain details of what was said at the meeting.

The FSA notified The Asahi Shimbun on May 31 that it has decided to disclose the requested information and issued copies of the related documents on June 6.

The newspaper company soon learned that Noda had received the contents of information disclosure request and talked about it in the unofficial meeting with other reporters in late May.

At the news conference, Noda said she could not recall who had told her about the information disclosure request.

“In various talks with FSA officials, I heard it as one of the topics discussed,” she said.

Noda has denied interfering in the FSA’s investigation. She also denied responsibility for the leak of the information disclosure request.

“That does not mean that facts have clearly been leaked,” she said.

(This article was written by Nobuya Sawa, Takuya Kado and Aya Nagatani.)