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Prefecture admits illegal use of government subsidy monies

Date Posted: 2009-04-30

Okinawa Prefecture has admitted to knowingly misappropriating fiscal subsidy money from the central government over a five-year period, then using those funds illegally to pay salaries for prefecture workers.

The Okinawa Prefecture Office says the illicit activity took more than ¥27.77 million during the 2003-2007 period, using it in a total of 633 cases involving the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Civil Engineering and Construction sections. Officials admitted the money had been spent in ways other than that approved by the central government in Tokyo for the subsidies.

Prefecture officials hastened to note that the money was not used for workers’ private use or for secret funds. Instead, they say the money was paid for salaries of extra workers not involved with the sections entitled to the subsidy money, or for subsidy work meeting expenses. The Prefecture undertook research to determine how the subsidy funds were being spent after the 2008 Board of Audit discovered that 12 other prefectures had been found misappropriating subsidy monies.

“I will apologize to every citizen,” said Hirokazu Nakaima, Okinawa’s governor, after the illegal accounting practices were uncovered at the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. “It is a pity things that the subsidy money was spent on were not the proper or correct reasons for spending the money,” he said. “I have to do my best to insure execution of correct accounting. The governor says Okinawa Prefecture will return the misspent subsidy money to the central government once it has been determined exactly how much was spent for other than intended projects.

Governor Nakaima also pledged to purge his staff of the individuals involved in the illegal accounting practices. The Prefecture’s General Affairs Department says “the paperwork has always been the same, and was repeated every year for the work, so it was kind of custom to do every treatment the same way. The knowledge of good and evil has seen little common sense, as evidenced by the illegal accounting practices.”

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