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The Board of Audit has discovered that 16 properties in 10 countries owned by Japanese embassies and consulates general have been out of use or left unattended for more than 30 years.

The board is urging the Foreign Ministry to promptly sell unnecessary properties.

The government’s auditing body has also found that nearly 8,000 bottles of fine wine were stored at an official residence in France, and a hotel room in Israel was kept on a year-round contract but used for only 54 days.

The board released the findings Wednesday after inspecting 51 diplomatic missions and requesting information from the ministry about all 127 missions in charge of overseas real estate owned by the Japanese government.

The 16 properties, purchased at a total cost of around ¥2.25 billion, include a 5,800-sq.-meter plot of land acquired for around ¥150 million in 1979 by the consulate general in Hagatna, Guam. The land has never been used, according to the board.

The consulate general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, stopped using an old house adjacent to its official residence and office in 2000 but has continued to own the land, which was bought for about ¥89 million, for security reasons. However, the board found such concerns to be no longer relevant given improved local security.

Among other examples, the embassies in Germany, Peru, Senegal and Thailand, and the consulate general in Nashville, Tenn., decided to sell land lots and buildings but have yet to commission local real estate agents to find buyers.

In France, 7,896 bottles of fine wine were kept in the residence of the ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in a Paris suburb, though only 268 bottles were served at the residence to guests in the previous fiscal year.

The consulate general in New York discarded 198 bottles of wine due to a deterioration in quality, after paying a total of around ¥2 million for them.

Meanwhile, the embassy in Tel Aviv has reserved a hotel room in Jerusalem, about 65 km away, on a yearly contract since fiscal 1997, but used it for only 54 days in fiscal 2007.

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