Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. said Monday its president and three other executives will take a pay cut for three months over nearly 30 cases of the telecom giant group's wining-and-dining that cost as much as 60,480 yen ($553) per person for communications ministry officials.
NTT's investigation panel said in its report such meetings resulted in the officials involved violating an ethic code for public servants and the group "cannot escape criticism." But it did not find the group asked the ministry for a favor over dinner.
NTT President Jun Sawada will take a pay cut of 40 percent for three months from July, while Vice President Akira Shimada will see a 20 percent cut for the same period. The two are among 16 executives within the NTT group reprimanded over the 29 cases of wining and dining.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has come under fire for a total of 78 illegal cases in which senior officials wined and dined with executives of companies it supervises, such as satellite broadcaster Tohokushinsha Film Corp.
The executives included Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's eldest son. Most of the wining and dining cases concerned the broadcaster and the NTT group, according to the ministry.
The practice of meeting over dinner without equally splitting the bill has exposed cozy relations between the ministry and companies that are under its supervision since it came to light earlier this year.
Four politicians who have held a key post at the communications ministry such as minister, senior vice minister and parliamentary vice minister dined on a total of five occasions, the report said, describing such dinners as ones that "could have raised doubts among the public" about fairness.
Two lawmakers from Suga's Liberal Democratic Party who have served as communications minister -- Seiko Noda, now acting secretary general of the ruling party, and lower house member Sanae Takaichi -- have admitted they had dinner with officials from the NTT group.
The NTT group has NTT Docomo Inc., one of the major Japanese mobile phone carriers that have decided to lower data usage fees in the face of growing pressure from Suga, who saw the country's fees as higher than in other developed countries.
The probe covered a nearly five-year period between April 2016 and March 2021, looking into internal documents and conducting interviews.
The panel found no evidence that government decisions were "distorted" over NTT's plan, announced in September last year, to make the mobile carrier unit a wholly owned subsidiary or the lowering of mobile fees. The government is a major shareholder in NTT.
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