Communications minister dined with NTT president

Japan's communications minister has admitted dining with the president of a telecom giant that his ministry oversees. But he says the meal was not a breach of the ministerial code of conduct.

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Takeda Ryota made the admission at a Lower House committee on Thursday.

The weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun had earlier reported that Takeda dined with NTT President Sawada Jun last November.

Takeda told the committee it's true he attended the meal at the invitation of the chairman emeritus of Central Japan Railway, Kasai Yoshiyuki.

But he said he was not aware beforehand of who else would be present.

Takeda said he had other plans, so he just had some drinks and left early. He says he paid 10,000 yen, or about 90 dollars.

Takeda said no one at the meal asked about ministry affairs, including licensing matters.

An opposition lawmaker pointed out that the timing of the meal raises suspicions because NTT was aiming to take complete control of its Docomo mobile phone subsidiary.

Takeda denied the allegation, saying the takeover bid did not require any permission from the communications ministry.

The ministry has been embroiled in a series of wining and dining scandals.
More than 10 senior officials have been punished after being entertained by executives of NTT as well as a satellite broadcasting company.