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Veteran Russian affairs expert Masaru Sato and fellow Foreign Ministry employee Akira Maejima, under arrest on suspicion of misusing ministry funds, will be kept in detention until May 25, the Tokyo District Court said Thursday.

The court decided to allow the detention of the two Foreign Ministry officials for an additional 10 days in connection with the scandal.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office on Tuesday arrested the pair on suspicion of using more than 33 million yen in funds earmarked for an international aid panel to pay for a trip to Israel.

Sato, a 42-year-old diplomat with strong ties to scandalized lawmaker Muneo Suzuki, and Maejima, 37, assistant director of the ministry’s Oceanian Division, are suspected of breach of trust in the case.

Seventeen people, including diplomats and private-sector scholars, allegedly used money from the Cooperation Committee’s funds to attend an international academic conference at Tel Aviv University in April 2000, investigative sources said.

The committee was set up in 1993 based on an agreement among Japan, Russia and other former Soviet republics as a tool by which Tokyo could provide economic aid to the countries. Nations other than Russia and Belarus later became eligible for official development assistance under a different aid framework.

The Cooperation Committee funded the construction of the controversial House of Friendship — infamously known as “Muneo House” — on Kunashiri Island, in connection with which Suzuki’s secretary has been arrested.

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