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Two City Council Members Asked to Resign Over Misappropriation of Subsidies for Local Road Race

An annual autumn fixture in the town of Gosen, Niigata, the Gosen Koyo Marathon came under investigation for allegations that its organizing committee had misused subsidies from the city government. On Sept. 21 the Gosen City Council's Special Investigative Committee delivered a summary of its final report in which it confirmed that organizers had used city money on expenses not covered under subsidy guidelines.

The problem came to light last year after city council members made a request for disclosure of information to the race organizers. In December the city council established the investigative committee made up of seven council members. The committee interviewed a total of 46 people including race organizing committee executive members and city government staff.

On the 21st the investigative committee reported to the city council that in these interviews it had determined that the organizing committee had applied for the city grant to subsidize its operating expenses but did not prepare proper accounting records to manage expenses, and that receipts submitted for reimbursement were for things including food, drink, entertainment and gifts that were "clearly not eligible for subsidization." The investigative committee also stated that "due to their negligence or lack of awareness," the share of responsibility for the problem that could be assigned to city government employees overseeing the subsidy program was "considerable."

In response to the report the city council passed a resolution calling for the resignation of council members Kazuyoshi Kuwahara and Tetsuya Matsukawa, who had served as the race's organizing committee executives, for damaging the moral integrity of the city council, and for them to repay 8,800,000 yen [~$78,000 USD] in subsidies from the city paid out during the period from 2009 to 2016.

On the issue of the repayment of funds Councilman Kuwahara did not make a direct response, stating, "It is my understanding that receipts that the city determined to be for expenses not covered by the subsidies were rejected. There is no doubt that the subsidies were necessary for the operation of the event, and there was no diversion of funds for personal use." Regarding the call for his resignation he commented, "I will make a decision based on the voices of the voters." Asked to resign in February, Councilman Matsukawa said, "The people elected me to make a better Gosen. I would like to continue with the city council in that spirit."

source article:
https://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/20180921-OYT1T50130.html
translated and edited by Brett Larner

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