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Discretionary diplomatic funds have been routinely used to entertain inspection officials — normally former bureau heads and ambassadors — visiting Japanese diplomatic missions abroad, Foreign Ministry sources said Tuesday.

The sources said these inspectors were normally accompanied by deputies from the General Affairs Division on trips to check accounting procedures and other operations at 187 Japanese embassies, consulates and other overseas bases.

The scale of the expenditures was not immediately known.

A career diplomat said the ambassador to the country in question would typically spend public funds on parties for visiting inspectors upon their arrival.

“The head office does not approve expenses if an ambassador’s expense account was used to entertain a visiting inspector,” the diplomat said. “Thus we have to resort to secret diplomatic funds.”

Another Foreign Ministry official said, “When an inspector visits Argentina, he will listen to tango, and in Paris he will watch cancan.”

The sources said entertaining such staff may violate ministerial regulations.

The latest revelation follows an embezzlement scandal in which Katsutoshi Matsuo, a former logistics chief at the ministry, has been indicted on charges of defrauding the government of public funds, which he allegedly used for personal purposes.

The ministry fired Matsuo, 55, in late January.

Matsuo’s case shed light on the use of discretionary funds at overseas bases, with some diplomats and ministry staff testifying that the money was used to entertain visiting Diet members and bureaucrats.

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