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Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2005

Envoys overseas get 2.9 million yen for housing; here they get 200,000 yen

Staff writer

Foreign Ministry officials stationed overseas are granted an average of 2.9 million yen in housing benefits a year while ministry officials in Tokyo get only 200,000, yen according to a document endorsed Tuesday by the Cabinet.

The document was released in response to questions from House of Representatives lawmaker Muneo Suzuki, a disgraced politician who once wielded strong influence over the Foreign Ministry.

According to the document, the Foreign Ministry asked for a total of some 8.1 billion yen in housing benefits for fiscal 2005. This comes to an average of about 2.9 million yen for each of the 2,813 ministry officials stationed overseas as of Sept. 1.

"The amount is appropriate in light of the fact that diplomats overseas need to invite guests to their homes to dine and need to be located in a safe place where they and their families will not be exposed to danger," the document says.

Overseas staffers also need to be able to be near their offices or the ambassador's residence in times of emergency.

"Therefore, the disparity of housing benefits (between staffers at home and abroad) is considered appropriate," the ministry states in the document.

The housing benefits for overseas staffers are tax-free in accordance with the Income Tax Law, but benefits for officials in Tokyo are not, according to the document.

The government denied that the benefits in some cases are used for a secret fund for diplomats overseas.

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The Japan Times

Article 10 of 13 in National news

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