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    The MOF has been looking into some of the projects Tokyo’s funding, and—surprise!—there’s waste:

    The Finance Ministry said Friday it found wasteful or inefficient spending for all 57 government projects it has examined, including 11 projects that simply are not needed.

    The 57 projects, worth 2.1 trillion yen, are among 73 projects at 14 ministries and agencies that the Finance Ministry is examining this fiscal year concerning budget allocations.

    “A thorough checking is done when the budget is formed, but some of the wasted spending turns up due to differences in value judgment,” Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano said at a news conference Friday. “We will thoroughly remove the obvious wasteful spending.”

    The ministry will ask the Defense Ministry to find a more efficient way to buy weapons and other equipment.

    Inefficient spending was found in all eight projects involving contracts with outside businesses.

    The Finance Ministry will order corrections to the Fisheries Agency’s project to research next-generation fishing boats because it may unfairly restrict entries of new business operators in the project.

    The ministry said its fiscal 2008 examination led to savings of 32.4 billion yen, which was carried over to the current fiscal year’s budget.

    In a weirdly complementary way, dead and non-existent people have been wasting their money, too…on donations to the DPJ (the major opposition party).

    Yukio Hatoyama, president of opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), on Tuesday acknowledged fabricated donations and apologized.

    Dead people and people who had never made political donations were listed as individual donors in his political fund reports, Hatoyama said.

    Hatoyama’s state-funded aide in charge of accounting used part of the opposition leader’s own money for the nonexistent donations. The aide did so to conceal his failure to collect donations from individuals, Hatoyama said.

    Hatoyama claimed the aide, who had served the politician for over 20 years, acted on his own without the knowledge of the Minshuto chief.

    Even so, Hatoyama’s political fund reports clearly contained false information about donations in violation of the Political Fund Control Law. Hatoyama bears a heavy responsibility for the wrongdoing.

    Between 4 million yen and 7 million yen of Hatoyama’s money was diverted every year for the misdeed.

    Although he is known for his immense personal wealth, Hatoyama’s annual income is less than 30 million yen, according to data published Tuesday.

    Hatoyama entrusted more than 10 million yen to his aide to cover his personal expenses. But was the money really Hatoyama’s? Or did it contain illegal donations whose sources had to be kept secret? There are many other questions that remain unanswered.

    Happily, there’s always a new dirty-money scandal to wick away attention from the current one. The latest, fortunately for the DPJ, involves the ruling coalition (as it usually does, of course, since it’s the LDP and its partners that have power to sell). Indeed, it involves a new cabinet member:

    The LDP’s local chapter in the 10th constituency in Chiba Prefecture did not report 200,000 yen donated by a local civil engineering company in its political funding report for fiscal 2005.

    While admitting the negligence in the financial records and that he had been personally acquainted with the company president, Hayashi denied personally receiving any funds.

    The problem was covered in the July 12 issue of the Sunday Mainichi weekly magazine, in which the 56-year-old president of the civil contractor revealed that he had been footing the accommodation and meal costs for Hayashi’s secretary under his own name, in a bid for Hayashi’s assistance in securing a Haneda Airport project contract.

    “It’s nothing but fraud. They just took money and gave us no contract,” said the president in another interview with the Mainichi Shimbun Thursday.

    JPY200000 is only about USD2000, so we’re not talking huge amounts of money here. I do like, however, the contractor’s bald-faced admission that he was trying to buy a government contract and froth of righteous indignation that it didn’t work.

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