The Foreign Ministry, already plagued by several money scandals, took punitive measures Friday against three officials at its embassy in Kenya for making false claims about their housing and other allowances.

Yoshihiko Arakawa, former minister to Kenya, received 1.63 million yen extra housing allowance from October 1997 to September 2000 by claiming rent on a furnished apartment, while he rented an unfurnished unit.

Arakawa was slapped with a 20 percent pay cut for three months, removed from his post as consul in New York and ordered to return to Tokyo.

“We deeply apologize to the Japanese people that we had to dole out more punishment to our staff for receiving this kind of inappropriate allowance,” Deputy Vice Foreign Minister Kyoji Komachi said.

Another former official, Masaru Dekiba, who works at the Consular and Migration Affairs Department in Tokyo, received 670,000 yen as an allowance for buying security equipment and hiring personnel — expenses included in the apartment’s rent — from May 1997 to January 1999.

Hikaru Maekawa, another embassy staffer in Kenya, received 180,000 yen for utility expenses that were also included in the rent, Komachi explained. Arakawa and Dekiba, who lived in the same apartment complex with Maekawa, also made similar claims.

Dekiba and Maekawa were reprimanded and all three have paid back the money they received through false claims, Komachi said.

In a separate case, the ministry announced that 18 officials had received taxi vouchers from the two sacked officials who allegedly padded limousine bills related to last year’s Group of Eight summit in Okinawa Prefecture.

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