Prosecutors will question fired Japanese diplomat Kazuhiko Togo over an allegation that he broke rules regarding travel expenses.
Togo allegedly ordered a government-funded committee on Russia to pay the travel expenses of Japanese who went to Israel in 2000 to attend a conference, investigative sources said Sunday.
Togo, former ambassador to the Netherlands, was dismissed April 26 for his shady ties to scandal-hit lawmaker Muneo Suzuki. He apparently forced the panel to foot an approximately 30 million yen bill, even though such payments are against the ministry’s rules, the sources said.
Togo had been director general of the ministry’s European and Oceanian Affairs Bureau. He was also in charge of a committee set up in 1993 by Japan and former Soviet republics to help the latter and to conduct aid projects for four Russian-held islands claimed by Japan.
Prosecutors suspect he damaged the panel by ordering it to pay a bill related to the conference on Russian diplomacy. Funding the dispatch of officials to countries other than Russia or former Soviet republics is not included in the committee’s operating rules.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office has already asked for an explanation from officials at the bureau. Those involved in handling the committee, and senior officials in the ministry’s Treaties Bureau, which handles legal affairs, have also been asked for explanations, the sources said.
A total of 17 Japanese professors and Foreign Ministry experts on Japanese-Russian relations attended the conference held at Tel Aviv University. Among them was Masaru Sato, a former analyst in the ministry’s Intelligence and Analysis Bureau.
Togo and Sato are suspected of having arranged for the panel to foot the bill under the pretext of promoting Japan-Russia peace treaty negotiations. They told officials at the committee headquarters that the ministry’s Russian Division was short of money, the sources said.
The division falsified a statement on why the funds were needed, according to the sources.
Togo was fired for inciting divisions in policy within a ministry bureau on Russian affairs. He is said to have worked closely with Suzuki while he served as director general of the European and Oceanian Affairs Bureau from August 1999 to May 2001.
The bureau changed its name to the European Affairs Bureau in January 2001.
The ministry transferred Sato, who was also closely linked to Suzuki, to its Diplomatic Record Office in April.
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