Officials of the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute misappropriated 1.5 million yen in funds in fiscal 2000 to cover unauthorized food and drink expenses, the state-run body said Friday.

It is believed that the money was used improperly by more than 10 officials working at the institute’s headquarters in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, according to the institute.

In addition, there was one occasion on which two officials of what was then the Science and Technology Agency were entertained by institute officials, which may violate a rule that bans civil servants from receiving such favors from bodies over which they have jurisdiction, it said.

Documents released by the institute on Friday show that these officials wined and dined reporters of major newspapers, members of the prefectural assembly and others.

The institute said that, in some cases, officials had spent more money at gatherings of this kind with outsiders than is permitted under institute guidelines.

Top executives are generally allowed to spend up to 20,000 yen per gathering per person, while officials at the division chief level are allowed to spend 10,000 yen and section heads 8,000 yen, institute officials said.

One alleged case of misappropriation involved a gathering on Nov. 6, 2000, between two senior institute officials, a member of the Fukui Prefectural Assembly, and an acquaintance, at two venues in Tokyo.

The evening in question saw around 68,000 yen spent on each person, according to the institute.

Other cases of misappropriation included covering expenses at a second venue after participants had dined at one restaurant, which is banned under institute regulations, according to the officials.

The institute said it will conduct further investigations into the matter and will order any officials who misappropriated funds to return the cash, following a reprimand.

Information regarding these expenses was disclosed in July in response to a request from the public under the information disclosure law.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry ordered the institute to examine the expenses in late October, after it was learned that a weekly magazine had identified examples of misappropriation within the documents, institute officials said.

The institute submitted its probe report to the ministry on Friday. The ministry is expected to launch its own investigation into the matter.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.