Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka said Friday she will return one month’s ministerial salary to the state’s coffers as a self-imposed punishment over two financial scandals involving ministry officials.
Denver Consul General Makoto Mizutani was fired last month for allegedly pocketing public funds, and two other officials were sacked this month for padding limousine bills for the 2000 Group of Eight summit in Okinawa.
The Cabinet also approved the ministry’s new top bureaucratic lineup, with Yoshiji Nogami, deputy foreign minister in charge of economic affairs, becoming the new vice foreign minister, replacing Yutaka Kawashima. The reshuffle is also linked to the scandals.
“I decided to take the (self) disciplinary measures at this time as we launch a new Foreign Ministry today with new personnel,” Tanaka told a news conference following a Cabinet meeting.
Ryozo Kato, deputy foreign minister for political affairs, has been assigned to the ministry’s secretariat. He now awaits the U.S. government’s approval so he can replace Shunji Yanai as Japanese ambassador to Washington.
Ambassador to Singapore Toshiyuki Takano was named new deputy foreign minister for political affairs, while Shotaro Oshima, ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was appointed as deputy foreign minister for economic affairs.
Kyoji Komachi, European Affairs Bureau head, was appointed deputy vice foreign minister, replacing Yutaka Iimura. Minister to France Yasuo Saito became the new European Affairs Bureau chief.
The appointments of Nogami, Takano, Oshima, Komachi and Saito were effective Friday.
Tanaka explained that her punitive refund comprises a 50-percent cut of a month’s salary for each of the two scandals that broke since she became minister in late April.
The monthly salary and allowance earned by the foreign minister totals 508,840 yen, while Tanaka also receives a monthly allowance of nearly 1.38 million yen as a Diet member.
Former Foreign Minister Yohei Kono returned six months’ salary when Katsutoshi Matsuo, the ministry’s former logistics chief, was fired earlier this year over a major embezzlement scandal.
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