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Japanese Envoy to U.S. May Resign

July 27, 2001

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s ambassador to the United States plans to resign to take responsibility for an embezzlement scandal involving the Japanese consul general in Denver, a news report said Friday.

Ambassador Shunji Yanai has already told Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi about his intention to step down, according to Kyodo News agency, which cited unidentified ministry sources.

Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka is expected to accept Yanai’s resignation and may appoint Ryozo Kato, a deputy foreign minister, to replace him, Kyodo said.

Kyodo said Yanai felt responsible for the foreign ministry’s dismissal of Makoto Mizutani, the Japanese consul general in Denver, because he had recommended Mizutani to the post.

The Foreign Ministry on Thursday fired Mizutani after it found that he embezzled $81,600 in government funds.

Mizutani, 52, reported to Tokyo that $185,000 was spent repairing his official residence in Cherry Hills, Colo., when he began work in August 1999 as Japan’s first representative in Denver. But the actual amount spent was $112,000, according to a report issued by the ministry.

It said Mizutani used the difference of $73,000 to inappropriately purchase paintings and furniture for his official residence. Mizutani also embezzled $8,600 by padding bills to the Tokyo government, the report said.

Mizutani later repaid all the money, the ministry said. The ministry has been plagued by several fraud and embezzlement scandals, in which senior officials misused public funds.

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