The Foreign Ministry is embroiled in another fraud scandal. Earlier this week police arrested two ministry bureaucrats on charges of receiving illegal refunds from a limousine company during last year's G8 summit in Kyushu and Okinawa. Investigators say most of the money — which was obtained through the padding of limo expenses — was used for personal gains.
At the time, Mr. Hiromu Kobayashi was in charge of financial and administrative affairs concerning summit preparations in his capacity as assistant director in the Office of the Director General for General Affairs in the Economic Affairs Bureau. By chance or not, he once worked under the ministry's former logistics chief, Mr. Katsutoshi Matsuo, who was indicted earlier this year for embezzling hundreds of millions of yen from a secret government fund. This, along with other allegations of financial wrongdoing, suggests that corruption is a deep-seated malaise plaguing the ministry.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said the latest incident could be part of wider embezzlement scandals involving the slush fund and stressed the need to tighten discipline in the ministry. We cannot agree more. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department should carry out a thorough investigation to unravel the whole truth. The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, must conduct its own probe to find out why and how such a massive padding of taxi bills occurred, apparently with the knowledge of many others both inside and outside the organization. Of course, the ministry must fully disclose the results of the probe.