Around a dozen health ministry officials were paid a total of at least 10 million yen in fiscal 2000 and 2002 by a private company for editing training videos for public nurses, the health ministry said Thursday.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said the officials from the National Health Insurance Division of the Health Insurance Bureau worked on the video on their own time, declared the money as income and have not done anything illegal.
“It is apparently undesirable because it involves state subsidies, although there is no legal problem as they did the work outside duty hours and they have no obligation to report such work,” said Katsunori Hara, head of the division.
The ministry said that since 2003, officials have usually declined payment to avoid a public outcry. The video was funded with state subsidies managed by the bureau.
The ministry said the government-affiliated All-Japan Federation of National Health Insurance Organizations subcontracted the design and production of the video to private publishing and editing firm Sentaku Agency Inc.,
The video carries information on local insurance businesses and are used for training public nurses at public health centers nationwide, the ministry said, noting it had allocated between 30 million yen and 55 million yen annually for the production.
The ministry began an in-house investigation after receiving a report from outside. It recently confirmed that about 10 percent of the budget for the production of the video in fiscal 2000 and 2002 was paid to officials as editing fees.