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Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009
Nakagawa's jet cost ¥41 million
Say you want to fly to Rome on a chartered jet. What would it cost? The answer: About ¥6.83 million per person, round trip.
The Finance Ministry said Thursday that it shelled out about ¥41 million to do just that for ex-Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa and five other officials who attended the disastrous Group of Seven finance ministers meeting there.
Nakagawa abruptly resigned last week after appearing to be inebriated at a G7 press briefing in the Italian capital.
His successor, Kaoru Yosano, said the chartered flight was needed because Nakagawa was in charge of budget deliberations and had to get to the event quickly.
"The measure was inevitable because I heard that they needed to attend the G7 meeting and bilateral conferences without delay after getting the latest information on the Diet situation," Yosano told the Lower House Budget Committee on Thursday.
Opposition lawmaker Hiroshi Kawauchi of the Democratic Party of Japan contended that Nakagawa and his aides could have made do with simple telephones and a commercial flight instead.
"If you properly arrange that two hours, some of that money would not have to be spent," Kawauchi said. "Since taxpayer money is being used, taking commercial flights should be a matter of principle from now on."
A round-trip, business-class flight to Rome on Alitalia costs ¥938,000 per person, or about one-seventh the cost of a charter flight.