• Kyodo

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Japan ranks the 23rd-cleanest out of 90 countries and regions in terms of political and bureaucratic corruption, according to an international survey released Wednesday.

Finland was the cleanest in this year’s corruption perceptions index compiled by Transparency International, a Berlin-based nonprofit group.

Finland scored a perfect 10 points, followed by Denmark with 9.8 points. New Zealand and Sweden came third with 9.4.

Scores given to the nations and regions range from 1 to 10, where 10 means corruption-free and 1 signifies highly corrupt.

Two-thirds of the countries on the index received scores of less than five.

In a briefing to release the data, Frank Vogl, vice chairman of the group’s Washington chapter, said corruption in government is rampant in dozens of economies and is the major cause of poverty.

In poor economies, public-sector budget resources are extremely scarce. When government and public officials are putting some of those resources in their own pockets, people suffer, he said.

Japan scored 6.4 points, improving its standing from 25th last year. Japan was one of only four countries and regions to have improved their scores significantly compared with those in last year’s report.

Singapore shared sixth place with Iceland and Norway with 9.1 points, the United States placed 14th with 7.8, and Hong Kong and Austria ranked 15th with 7.7.

South Korea ranked 48th with 4 points, China 63rd with 3.1, and Nigeria came bottom of the list with 1.2 points.

The index is based on the degree to which corruption is perceived by businesspeople, the general public and analysts to exist among public officials and politicians, the group said.

Only 90 economies were ranked because sufficient data could not be found on other nations. The survey included only those countries and regions for which there were at least three distinct survey sources.

Transparency International was founded in 1993 and has 75 national chapters around the world.

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