An ambassador based in Europe was admonished last week for using the Foreign Ministry’s computer system to send romantic e-mail to a female employee, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Tuesday.

“The computer should not be used for private purposes,” Kawaguchi said in response to a question about media reports that departing Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament Seiichiro Noboru used the system to send personal e-mail.

“It is extremely regrettable that an official in such a senior post took action that could prompt the public to lose trust in the ministry at this time,” Kawaguchi said. “Reforming the mentality of ministry personnel is the most difficult challenge.”

A series of scandals last year, mostly involving embezzlement and misuse of public funds, has prompted the ministry to try to reform its organization.

Kawaguchi said she issued a warning Thursday to Noboru, Japan’s new envoy to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He is to be replaced shortly by Kuniko Inoguchi, a professor at Sophia University.

In March, the 60-year-old Noboru sent an e-mail to a female employee at the embassy in Kenya that somehow found its way onto the ministry’s local area network, which can be viewed by all personnel.

In the e-mail, Noboru wrote: “Mont Blanc is beautiful today. The forecast for Nairobi was 28 degrees with a snow symbol. Was everything all right? . . . When I think that you are looking forward to getting my mail, I forget the time and become full of vigor. Perhaps this is a sign of ‘love sickness?’ “

Noboru served as consul general in Los Angeles and headed the ministry’s Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau prior to taking the post of envoy for disarmament issues in January 2000.

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