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Southern village has big missing money problem

Date Posted: 2005-10-28

Yonaguni Town, the most southern port city in Okinawa, is missing a lot of money, and nobody can explain where it went.

The small island, in the Yaeyama Group on the southern tip of the Ryukyu Islands chain, has a Town Office staff that’s been saving money every month for more than 20 years. The mutual aid society money was put aside to serve the workers when they retired.

The money is missing, and the Town Office Workers’ Association chief, Hiroki Aratake, says the town has some explaining to do. The staff worker handling the money says “I did not use it for myself.” The Association says somebody took the money, and it wants immediate answers.

There has been no financial audit since 2001, and that’s puzzling to Aratake. The mutual aide society money system was set up within the town office by the Workers’ Association. Directors, staff and even part-time workers contributed to the fund, with Y300 being collected from each person each month. The town’s Financial Section Staff handled the collections, an amount Aratake says should now total more than Y5,000,000.

Officials say there had been some payments made to individuals in past years to cover typhoon or drought weather situations, and some for retirees. Still, they agree there should be at least Y5,000,000 in the account. Asked again for an accounting, the financial worker says “I really don’t know” (what happened to the money).

The Workers’ Association says “we aren’t yet taking to charging him with theft yet, but are asking him to explain what happened to the money.”

There are 53 members in the Workers’ Association. Some have been contributing for up to 30 years.

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