Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka said Tuesday that she will wait until a fuller picture emerges of the embezzlement scams enveloping her ministry before imposing punitive measures upon herself.
Two Foreign Ministry officials were fired Monday over alleged misuse of public funds, while other senior ministry officials, including Vice Foreign Minister Yutaka Kawashima, have accepted pay cuts to take responsibility for the scandal.
Hiromu Kobayashi, a 45-year-old former assistant director in the Office of the Deputy Director General for General Affairs at the Economic Affairs Bureau, and his 38-year-old subordinate, Tsutomu Okuma, were indicted earlier Monday for allegedly padding limousine bills related to last year’s Group of Eight summit in Okinawa Prefecture.
Tanaka has yet to impose any disciplinary measures on herself in connection with the case or in relation to last month’s sacking of Japan’s consul general in Denver — again over the alleged misuse of public funds.
“I will decide on my own punishment after I get the whole picture,” she told a news conference Tuesday morning.
“I would do it now if I could be sure that we are completely finished (uncovering the wrongdoing), but unpredictable things may crop up, so I would like to take more time.”
The remarks appear to refer to other ministry misdeeds that have been the focus of media scrutiny but have not been officially acknowledged, including the alleged padding of hotel bills by a ministry official.
Last month, Tanaka told reporters in Hanoi that she would announce details regarding her personal punitive sanctions over the scandals upon her return to Japan.
The rash of scandals involving improper use of public money that has rocked the ministry started with the firing and arrest of Katsutoshi Matsuo, a former logistics chief at the ministry who stands accused of swindling the state out of 507 million yen.
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