• Kyodo

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The Saitama District Public Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday arrested the former chief of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Social Welfare Bureau and four others on suspicion of defrauding the national government of some 360 million yen in 1999.

Prosecutors arrested bureau chief Nobuyuki Shindo, 61, Nobuko Noguchi, head of a social welfare corporation in the city of Nishi-Tokyo, and three others for swindling the money by submitting an illegal application for national subsidies for a special nursing home for the elderly in Nishi-Tokyo.

In 1999, according to the prosecutors, Shindo approved an application by Noguchi’s welfare corporation for national subsidies to build a nursing home despite Noguchi’s corporation being ineligible for the grant.

According to sources close to the case, subsidies for the corporation were informally approved in the summer of 1998 but were suspended after the metropolitan government discovered the corporation had altered a certificate for the subsidies that it submitted to the local government.

Nevertheless, Shindo approved the application after he became chief of the welfare bureau in April 1999, despite knowing the certificate had been illegally altered. The application was officially approved around November 1999 and some 360 million yen in subsidies were given to the corporation.

Prosecutors believe a metropolitan assembly member asked Shindo, who now heads the metropolitan government’s Social Welfare Corp., to approve the application.

Noguchi’s corporation received 1.24 billion yen in subsidies for the nursing home from the national government and the metropolitan government, the sources said. The home opened in April 2000.

Several locations, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, were searched Tuesday in connection with the case.

Officials said that documents relevant to the case were voluntarily submitted to authorities in November.

Shindo’s former colleagues expressed surprise at his arrest, saying he appeared to be untainted by corruption.

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