OSAKA (Kyodo) Osaka prosecutors arrested a 39-year-old welfare ministry official Tuesday on suspicion of falsifying public documents and using them to abuse the postal system’s discount for disabled people.
The arrest of Tsutomu Kamimura, in charge of administration concerning the disabled, adds a new twist to a case that has already spurred a series of arrests in the private sector.
Kamimura allegedly fabricated a ministry document around April 2004 that is required for organizations to get permission to use the postage discount for disabled people.
Hakusan-kai, an organization for the disabled headed by Kunio Kurasawa, 73, tied up with companies such as Osaka-based Shinsei Kigyo to send direct mail from multiple companies, including electronics discount store Best Denki Co., by wrongfully using the postage discount system.
Under Japan Post’s discount for the disabled, postage is sharply discounted to around ¥8 per item instead of the regular ¥120.
Also arrested Tuesday for alleged conspiracy with Kamimura was former Hakusan-kai member Tadashi Kono, 68, the prosecutors said.
They believe Kurasawa, who is already under arrest, initially tried to get access to the discount system by using the ministry document to seek membership in a nonprofit association dealing with periodicals aimed at disabled people.
But the association declined Hakusan-kai’s request.
Hakusan-kai later decided not to join the association and instead submitted another Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry document to Japan Post Service Co. to obtain permission to use the discount system.
This document is also suspected to have been fabricated.
Prior to being questioned by prosecutors, Kamimura said, “I have not met anyone from the organization and I had never even heard of it.” He also denied fabricating documents.
The welfare ministry has claimed it has no record of a certificate or any other documents issued for Hakusan-kai to apply for the special discount system.
The prosecutors suspect ministry officials falsified the document because its format closely resembles that of internal documents of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
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