The Foreign Ministry funnels 2 billion yen a year into a discretionary fund handled by the Cabinet Secretariat, it was alleged Wednesday.
The allegations were made by a former ambassador to Lebanon who claims he was “effectively fired” for opposing Japan’s support for the U.S.-led war on Iraq.
“(This flow of funds) is taken for granted in the ministry,” Naoto Amaki told a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. “But the ministry can never admit it as it is against the law.”
Amaki, who resigned from the ministry in August, said he heard the story more than 20 years ago from a ministry official in charge of accounting who oversaw the channeling of funds when he was working in a neighboring division.
In a book titled “So Long, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” which hit stores Wednesday, Amaki criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and the ministry for supporting what he described as U.S. President George W. Bush’s “murderous policy” on Iraq.
The book is subtitled “I will not forgive Prime Minister Koizumi and his bureaucrats, who betrayed our country.”
It is unusual for a former career diplomat to openly criticize the prime minister or the Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima rejected Amaki’s allegations later Wednesday, saying the ministry concluded that they were false following an internal investigation in the wake of an embezzlement scandal in 2001.
Takashima added, however, that the ministry would investigate other allegations made in the book and take action if necessary.
“We are also checking to see whether Mr. Amaki has violated the National Public Service Law by revealing diplomatic secrets,” Takashima told a regular news conference.
Amaki said he sent two telegrams addressed to Koizumi before and after the March 20 start of the war on Iraq.
The first urged the prime minister to take all possible diplomatic measures to avoid war, while the second called for the government to do its utmost to end the war through diplomatic means, he said.
Shortly afterward, Deputy Vice Foreign Minister Shinichi Kitajima called him to ask if he planned to quit. Amaki replied that he was determined to do so if Koizumi, in reading the two telegrams, considered him unsuitable as a member of his administration.
About a month later, the 56-year-old Amaki received a sheet of paper from Vice Foreign Minister Yukio Takeuchi asking him to resign voluntarily “as part of the ministry’s rejuvenation efforts,” Amaki said.
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