The Board of Audit has detected 981 cases of inappropriate accounting in fiscal 2007 totaling ¥125.36 billion among government ministries and agencies, independent administrative agencies and local governments receiving financial support from the central government. The amount was the highest ever and represented a fourfold increase from the previous fiscal year.

The board identified 859 cases amounting to ¥37.71 billion as “wrongful” because of law violations and other reasons. These cases include the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s ¥13.22 billion and the Defense Ministry’s ¥2.18 billion.

The board’s findings should not be viewed as representing all irregularities since the board’s manpower is limited and its auditing activities are conducted over a short period. It is clear that both the central and local governments must make utmost efforts to end wasteful and questionable use of tax money.

Accounting irregularities totaling ¥1.137 billion were detected at the governments of Aichi, Fukushima, Kyoto, Oita and eight other prefectures. The board regards the sums as off-the-book money. Of the amount, ¥556 million was subsidized by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry and by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry. It is outrageous that all prefectural governments targeted by the audit were found to have committed irregularities.

Of the remaining 35 prefectures, 17 have begun internal probes voluntarily. The board will also carry out its own probes. There is the possibility that more irregularities will surface in those prefectures. For the first time the Board of Audit reported that 29 ministries and agencies failed to return misused money in 465 cases totaling ¥13.1 billion from fiscal 1946 thorough fiscal 2006.

It is important that concrete action be taken after the audit report. The board should be empowered to have entities concerned take corrective or preventive measures and should file accusations if necessary against people involved.

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