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Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa said Monday his ministry will consider reducing the amount of special funds set aside for classified government activities in the fiscal 2001 budget.

“A radical overhaul will be necessary,” Shiokawa told a committee meeting of the House of Councilors. “We will consider cutting the amount of funds as much as possible from the current fiscal year’s budget.”

The special “secret funds” are meant to cover classified government activities such as information gathering. They are allocated to the Foreign Ministry, the Cabinet Secretariat and several other government organs.

The recent revelation that a former Foreign Ministry official had allegedly pocketed large amounts of cash from the funds intensified moves to more closely scrutinize their use.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has instructed the concerned ministries to use restraint in issuing the funds.

The Cabinet Secretariat has been allocated 1.62 billion yen under the current year’s budget. The Foreign Ministry has access to 5.57 billion yen.

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