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OSAKA (Kyodo) Two Japan Post Service Co. officials under arrest for allegedly allowing companies to save on postal fees by sending direct mail using a discount for disabled people probably took advantage of lax management, investigators said Wednesday.

Mitsuo Yamamoto, 59, the manager of Japan Post Service’s Shin-Osaka branch, and Satoshi Suzuki, 39, a Shin-Tokyo branch official, were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of breaking the postal law.

The move followed the arrest of officials from various companies, including Best Denki Co., and members of support groups for the disabled.

Under the discount, post offices that deliver mail supporting the disabled are supposed to share information about the volume if it exceeds 3,000 items.

The procedure is aimed at preventing the discount from being abused, but since there is no oversight, the two postal officials took advantage of the loophole, the sources said, adding that other branch employees knew about the abuse but ignored it.

The abuse is considered a systemic problem in Japan Post Service, the sources said.

Osaka prosecutors allege that Yamamoto allowed a health drink mail-order firm in Fukuoka and an ad agency in Kyoto to send 1.4 million fliers at discounted postal rates around last September.

This allowed the companies to avoid ¥160 million in postage fees, they said.

Suzuki is suspected of allowing major electronics discount store operator Best Denki, based in Fukuoka, to send 1.3 million fliers in February 2007, resulting in the loss of ¥140 million in postage.

At a news conference Tuesday evening, Japan Post Service Chairman Norio Kitamura acknowledged that its internal checks are insufficient.

Kitamura, however, was vague on whether the arrests of its two employees would cost his neck or result in punishment against their supervisors.

Under the postal discount, disabled people and their supporters can send periodicals at around ¥8 per item rather than ¥120 under certain conditions, such as when the periodical has a regular circulation of 500 copies or more.

The postal law allows a fine of up to ¥300,000 for people who unlawfully evade postage and a prison term of up to 1 year or a fine of up to ¥500,000 for postal workers involved in illegal evasion of postage.

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