translated by Brett Larner
On Mar. 26 the Kanagawa Prefectural Police announced that a search of track and field training facilities at Nihon Taiku [Nittai] University in Yokohama's Aoba Ward on Mar. 2 as part of an investigation of suspected marijuana violations had uncovered a cache of counterfeit money. Police are investigating the origin of the counterfeit bills. Nittai University's men's ekiden team have won the Hakone Ekiden nine times, and the school counts among its alumni world-class marathoners Hiromi Taniguchi and Yuko Arimori.
Kanagawa Prefectural Police officers found three types of counterfeit bills in denominations of 1000, 5000 and 10000 yen along with incomplete one-sided bills. The bills appeared to have been produced using a color photocopier but will be subject to a detailed examination. Police are questioning the residents of the room in which the money was discovered to find out more details of their production and planned use.
The counterfeit bills were found Mar. 2 during a search of a room in Nittai University's training facilities occupied by a third-year pole vaulter on the school's track and field team on suspicion of violations of Japan's marijuana restriction laws. The bills were found among the belongings of the student's roommate, a second-year triple jumper. An assistant coach with the school's team turned the bills, sealed in a plastic bag, over to Kanagawa Prefectural Police officials. Nittai University president Takushiro Ochiai told police, "[The second-year student] said, 'I didn't mean to do anything bad,' and, 'It was just for fun.'"
The third-year student who was the subject of the original investigation has been expelled from the university but not arrested. Searches of his room have not yielded his supply of marijuana. Police did discover stalks from four marijuana plants and an apparent smoking apparatus but have not yet located the smokable portion of the plants necessary to charge the student with a crime under Japanese law.
Along with the pole-vaulter's expulsion, track and field director Takashi Ishii, head coach Masahiko Mizuno and assistant coach Fumiaki Kobayashi resigned their positions on Mar. 5 to take responsibility for the failure of their leadership. The entire track and field team was suspended for 5 days, and the 46 members of the pole vaulting and triple jump squads have been suspended indefinitely. The second-year student accused of counterfeiting money has likewise been suspended from the university pending the outcome of the investigation.
Nittai University owns 31 training facilities outside the main campus. 863 student athletes make use of the facilities. In response to the current situation, the university will now allow coaches to enter and search students' rooms in the training facilities without permission. An official with the university commented, "It's possible that we were too lax in the past." From now on the university will keep a vigilant eye over its students' activities.