A Foreign Ministry panel that in April dismissed allegations a diplomat at the embassy in Australia misused public funds in the early 1990s has failed to report on its results, ministry sources said Saturday.
This breaches the ministry’s rules on documentation control, which mandate compiling documents on office work and operations conducted.
An official at the ministry’s Overseas Establishments Division said, “There are documents stipulating the content of questioning of related personnel but we did not compile a report because investigation results were summarized in the vice foreign minister’s Diet statement.”
Kiyohiro Araki, then senior vice foreign minister and head of the in-house panel, told a House of Councilors administrative surveillance committee in April that the monthlong investigation by the panel did not find any clear proof that the diplomat acted improperly.
In March, the media focused attention on the case, which was apparently uncovered during a periodic internal inspection at the embassy in June 1993. Then Foreign Minister Yohei Kono pledged to investigate the allegations.
Ministry sources said the 56-year-old official who was in charge of the embassy’s accounts at the time was found to have withdrawn about 2.1 million yen from the embassy’s bank account to purchase a car for personal use. It was also alleged that he embezzled at least 5 million yen by having a local contractor pad costs to repair the embassy.
But the investigation revealed that senior embassy officials and the Foreign Ministry’s Financial Affairs Division had pressured related staff to lie in interviews or remain silent, forcing the investigative panel to conduct some interviews again.
Ministry sources say they suspect the panel did not compile a report on the case to avoid officially recording the alleged coverup.
Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, who took office in April, instructed Senior Vice Foreign Minister Seiken Sugiura to reinvestigate the case, but Sugiura told a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on June 6 that no new facts had been uncovered.
The diplomat in question is now working at the embassy in New Zealand.
Tanaka recently expressed displeasure when Vice Foreign Minister Yutaka Kawashima unofficially decided to move the diplomat to the embassy in Tanzania.
The Foreign Ministry will formally dismiss Hiromu Kobayashi and Tsutomu Okuma, who were arrested last month for allegedly padding bills for limousines used at the Group of Eight summit in Okinawa last year.
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