The Foreign Ministry has written to nearly 100 people who are seeking information under a new disclosure law, saying it is postponing a decision on their requests due to a deluge of applications regarding a recent embezzlement scandal, ministry sources said Wednesday.
The law, which took effect April 1, requires central government ministries and agencies to inform applicants in writing within 30 days whether they will disclose the requested information.
But they are allowed to postpone these notices for a further 30 days if they deem it impossible to meet the deadline because of a large volume of requests or other reasons.
As of Friday, the Foreign Ministry had received 862 applications, but made no decisions on whether the requested information will be released.
The ministry’s office of information disclosure said it began sending the letters Monday to people who sought information from sections that received a large number of applications. These included its accounting division
“If we wait (to send the letters) until the deadline, it will be hard for us to process them,” the officials said.
From April 1 to April 10, the Financial Services Agency, the Foreign Ministry and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry were the top three recipients of applications, government officials said.
Officials of the FSA and the health ministry said they have not mailed postponement letters, but will do so soon.
The Foreign Ministry was the focus of strong media and public attention earlier this year as a scandal broke involving a diplomat who allegedly embezzled a huge sum of secret government funds.
Katsutoshi Matsuo, a former logistics chief at the ministry, has been indicted on charges of defrauding the government of public funds for personal use. Matsuo, 55, was sacked in late January over the allegation.
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