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Dispute over subsidy simmers between Nago, fishermen

Date Posted: 2003-12-11

A dispute over discrepancies in the books of the Nago Fishermen’s Association and Nago City administrators still simmers on. The dispute concerns subsidies that the city and Okinawa Prefecture paid to local fishermen for destroying coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish in 2000. The funds were dispersed by the City. City officials say that the Fishermen’s Association in many cases collected subsidy money from the fund even no actual work was done.

The case came to light when one of the members of the association discovered a document in the association books with his seal stamped on it showing that he had received money for destroying starfish, when actually he had not even gone out to the sea during that period. He demanded an explanation from the association office, and after not receiving one to satisfaction, went to the police.

Subsequent police investigation found that the association office had falsified records and collected more than was due. Association officials then apologized and returned Y1,640,000 to the city. More recently, further questions were raised after it was learned that the director of the association had used Y600,000 of the subsidy money, not to the purpose it had been earmarked but “for something else.” According to the rules, the subsidy money must be used only for the purpose it is intended. Nago City Assembly is now demanding an explanation and is reportedly considering demanding its money back too.

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