The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has reprimanded six officials in connection with a bribery scandal involving an agricultural cooperative from Kagawa Prefecture, a ministry official said Saturday.
The six had allegedly been taking bribes from the Shikoku Okawa agricultural co-op in the form of free entertainment and golf games over the past five years, the official said.
The ministry has been conducting an in-house investigation over allegations of bribery after an elite ministry official was arrested and indicted in a bribery scandal involving the co-op.
The six officials include Kozo Sakaue, former chief of the Structural Improvement Division at the ministry’s Agricultural Administration Bureau, who had dined with former senior officials of the co-op on seven occasions and golfed with them on eight occasions.
The ministry slapped Sakaue with a six-month, 10 percent salary cut. Sakaue had not paid for two dinners and played one free round of golf.
This is the third time Sakaue has been the subject of punishment. He received a written warning last December after dining with businessmen who had dealings with the ministry, and was hit with a one-month, 10 percent salary cut in January for traveling to Shanghai with the co-op’s senior officials.
Others punished Friday were Shigeki Yamamoto, former chief of the Production and Marketing Department of the same bureau, who received a light admonishment, and three others, including a former deputy chief at the bureau who received a written warning.
Yamamoto twice golfed with the co-op officials, while each of the four had played with them once.
The ministry has so far reprimanded 24 officials in connection with the case, it said.
On April 14, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office indicted elite ministry official Kinya Mizokami, 44, former co-op head Yoshinobu Hirose, 70, and former senior co-op official Taishi Yamashita, 56.
Prosecutors alleged that Hirose and Yamashita wined and dined Mizokami between 1997 and 1999 while he was assigned to the Hokkaido Prefectural Government in return for his earlier help in securing government subsidies for the co-op.
Mizokami is suspected of incurring 1.9 million yen in bills over more than 20 visits to expensive bars in Tokyo and Sapporo from July 1997 to October last year and having the bills paid by the co-op.