The Foreign Ministry filed a criminal complaint Thursday against a nongovernmental organization helping China with reforestation and a former president of the group for alleged fraud, sources said.
The ministry filed the complaint against the Japanese Association of Green Deserts and Masao Toyama, 64, on suspicion of defrauding the ministry of 2.5 million yen in subsidies by submitting a false report on a greening project in China, the sources said.
The Tottori-based NGO was founded in 1991 by Toyama’s father, Seiei Toyama, 96, a professor emeritus at Tottori University. The son succeeded his father as president at the end of 2002 but stepped down in April to take responsibility for the scandal.
Seiei Toyama was among this year’s recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, regarded as the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. Toyama was an awardee for Peace and International Understanding, with the organizers praising “his 20-year crusade to green the deserts of China in a spirit of solidarity and peace.”
The fraud surfaced during an investigation by Japan Post, which found that although the association had listed expenses for seedlings in its greening initiative in China, it did not actually carry out the plantings, the sources said.
According to the complaint, the NGO falsely submitted a report showing it had completed the project.
The NGO forged receipts and a stamp of a nonexistent farm in China to disguise the fact that it had not completed a plantation project there.