• SHARE

OSAKA (Kyodo) Prosecutors arrested a senior Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry official on Sunday over a case of postal system abuse involving a fabricated ministry document.

The Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigation squad suspects Atsuko Muraki, 53, director general of the ministry’s Equal Employment, Children and Families Bureau, was involved in issuing the document for an organization to enable it to use a mail discount system for the handicapped, according to investigative sources.

She was the head of a ministry section in charge of measures for the disabled when the fabricated document was allegedly issued for the group called Hakusan-kai on May 28, 2004. The document carried the official stamp of the section chief, but there are no materials relating to the issuance of the document in the ministry, the sources said.

Tsutomu Kamimura, 39, Muraki’s subordinate at the time, was arrested in late May on suspicion of falsifying public documents for the group, including a certificate that it used to gain approval from Japan Post for the discount system. Kamimura has admitted to forging the documents.

According to the sources, Kamimura told investigators he handed fabricated documents to Muraki, while Kunio Kurasawa, 73, head of Hakusan-kai who was also arrested, said he received such documents directly from her.

She has denied the allegations during the questioning, according to the sources. Prior to the arrest, she told Kyodo News she has no memory of the group’s name or issuance of the document.

Hakusan-kai is an organization for the handicapped but was denied membership to a nonprofit organization that supports group activities for the disabled, such as making sure they qualify for the mail discount system, on grounds that its activities were unclear.

Under Japan Post’s mail discount system for handicapped people, mail charges are discounted to around 8 yen per mail item, instead of the regular fee of 120 yen.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW