Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka said Monday she severely reprimanded Seiken Sugiura, senior vice foreign minister, last week for earlier agreeing to conceal a diplomatic scandal.

A former official at the Japanese Embassy in Palau was suspended for a year effective Aug. 1 for misusing embassy funds. But senior officials refrained from publicizing the move or informing Tanaka, Deputy Vice Foreign Minister Kyoji Komachi said last week.

Komachi said the senior ministry bureaucrats at the time consulted with Sugiura and decided to keep the matter secret.

Tanaka said she “spoke in a calm manner but quite severely admonished” Sugiura when he apologized to her Thursday. The case ended up being disclosed early last week by the ministry’s new leading bureaucrats.

The foreign minister denied telling Sugiura not to worry about his actions. But the senior vice minister told a news conference Thursday she said so.

“The situation is not something that can be brushed off by saying don’t worry,” Tanaka told a news conference. “Such words did not come out of my mouth. Perhaps he said that inadvertently.”

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