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The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry has reprimanded an official for using an online dating Web site during office hours, ministry sources said Saturday.

The official admitted misusing the Internet while on duty and was removed from his current post as a disciplinary measure based on the National Public Service Law, the sources said. The official’s name and section were not revealed.

It is the first time a public servant has been punished for using the Internet while on duty to access a dating service, the sources said.

According to the ministry’s investigation, the official accessed the home page of a dating service during the afternoon of May 2.

On the Web site’s message board was a note posted by a woman hinting she would provide sex for money. “I want a rich man who can support me financially,” she wrote, specifying the amount of money she wanted.

The official replied to the message, saying, “I hope we can meet in Shibuya or Yokohama one weekday evening,” according to the sources.

Although the official used his personal data to access the site, the abbreviation of the ministry’s name, MLIT, appeared on his message as its origin.

The message later caused controversy on another Web site and an e-mail inquiry tipped off the ministry, which was able to identify the official.

The ministry has sent a warning to all its officials, reminding them of the consequences of misusing the Internet.

There are hundreds or even thousands of similar dating Web sites in Japan, varying from those for finding e-mail friends to those explicitly trading in sex.

Crimes, including murders, have recently been linked to relationships made via such Web sites.

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