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    Over forty municipal employees in Kyoto who had already used up most of their paid vacation found a way to milk the city for more money. The city offers paid days off to arrange for or attend the funerals of family members, so they simply pretended their relatives were dropping dead at a clip of a half-dozen per year. The result was a total of 142 days of paid bereavement leave based on false claims:

    The investigation found that a 49-year-old female official at the Kamigyo Fire Station’s general affairs division illegally took 12 days off when she worked at the Higashiyama Fire Station. In fiscal 2005 alone, she took bereavement leave five times, saying relatives had passed away.

    “I never thought she would lie in applying for bereavement leave,” an official who was her boss at the time said. “I felt sorry for her, as she said so many of her relatives had died around that time.”

    An official of Nishikyo ward office’s general affairs division applied for bereavement leave six times, saying his uncle died and then claiming aunts had died on four different occasions, from fiscal 2004 to 2006. In fiscal 2006, the 43-year-old official took bereavement leave five times.

    His boss said: “I thought that was too many [deaths], so I did ask questions. But since it’s a personal matter, I didn’t ask him to provide evidence.”

    Some of the offenders’ supervisors have also been disciplined. They do come off as easily gulled, but you have to feel sorry for them, too. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone could lose several relatives in their eighties in rapid succession; parents and their siblings tend to approach average life expectancy around the same time, after all. As with so many of these scandals, this one was uncovered through what looks like luck: a worker at the environment agency was found to have fraudulently applied for leave, whereupon attendance records in general were inspected.

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