• Kyodo


The operator of a snack stand serving takoyaki (octopus dumplings) near Osaka Castle was found guilty Wednesday of evading about ¥130 million in income tax.

The Osaka District Court sentenced Tatsuko Utsunomiya, 72, to a year in prison, suspended for three years, and handed down a fine of ¥26 million. Her food stand had been thriving on the back of a growing number of foreign visitors.

According to the ruling, she did not declare about ¥330 million she earned from 2014 to 2016 as taxable income. Utsunomiya admitted to the accusation.

“The consequences of evading a large amount of income tax are serious,” said presiding Judge Keisuke Masuda.

Although Utsunomiya had claimed she was not familiar with the procedure for filing income tax returns, the judge said she should have sought the advice of tax offices or experts.

Masuda said he gave her a suspended jail term because she had already paid a penalty for failing to file taxes and had shown remorse.

Prosecutors had demanded a one-year prison term and a fine of ¥39 million, claiming she evaded taxes for the “selfish reason of keeping the money.”

Her defense counsel had sought leniency, insisting she was no longer operating the stand and had already “faced severe social punishment.”

The food stand opened several decades ago in a location just a three-minute walk from the castle, a well-known tourist spot in the heart of the city, and had sales of around ¥240 million in 2016.

The stand voluntarily suspended operations indefinitely in August, a month after Utsunomiya was indicted.

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