A total of 127 cases of corruption at 111 organizations within local government offices were reported in fiscal 1998, involving 156 civil servants, the Home Affairs Ministry said Tuesday. Compared with fiscal 1997, the latest figures show an increase of 22 cases at 18 organizations, the report says. The incidents also involved 36 more employees than in 1997. Although corruption among civil servants at the local-government level had been declining in recent years, it began to rise again in 1997. The latest figures are the second highest on record after fiscal 1985, when 143 cases of corruption were reported at 125 organizations and involved 200 employees. At the prefectural government level, 21 cases of corruption were reported at 15 organizations, involving 34 employees. There were 104 cases at the municipal level involving 94 organizations and 120 employees. Two officials at two public corporations were also reported to have been implicated in such wrongdoings. Embezzlement was the most frequent problem in fiscal 1998, accounting for 66 cases, or 52 percent of the total figure, followed by bribe-taking with 46 incidents, or 36.2 percent. Corruption occurred most frequently at sections related to public works, with 27 cases, followed by 20 cases in education-related offices, 13 in environment and sanitation departments and 12 in general affairs sections, according to the report. Of the 156 public servants implicated in wrongdoings, 12 were the heads of local governments, seven were members of the local assembly and five were deputy heads of municipalities. The rest were regular personnel, the report says. Sixty-five of those involved in corruption cases received criminal punishment such as prison terms or fines, the report shows.

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