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Japan: 10 Mil. Yen in Public Aid 'Stolen'
Source: yomiuri.co.jp
Source Date: Sunday, October 07, 2012
Focus: Internet Governance
Country: Japan
Created: Oct 09, 2012

A woman from Soka, Saitama Prefecture, who died in October last year at the age of 33, illegally received a total of about 10 million yen in social assistance from at least 10 municipalities from May 2010 to June 2011, according to local government sources.

The woman used her real name and relatives' names on her applications for the aid and illegally received the money from ward and city governments in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture.

The woman allegedly lied to municipal government officials in charge of social welfare, telling them she did not want them to contact her relatives to confirm her financial status because she had escaped from domestic violence.

In one case, she told a case worker that a vacant furnished apartment unit for rent was hers.

The woman's case has highlighted the harsh reality that local government check systems have not caught up with the sharp increase in the number of people applying for welfare.

The woman illegally received the livelihood assistance in nine municipalities in Tokyo--Higashi-Kurume, Nishi-Tokyo, Kokubunji, Tachikawa, Fuchu, Nerima Ward, Adachi Ward, Katsushika Ward, Kita Ward--and Soka, Saitama Prefecture, with the amounts ranging from 128,965 yen to 2,068,640 yen.

The Tokyo metropolitan government obtained information suggesting the woman may have illegally received such aid from two other city governments in Tokyo.

The woman began legally receiving public aid in December 2009 when she lived in Higashi-Kurume, claiming that she was unfit to work due to an eating disorder.

While still receiving welfare from Higashi-Kurume, the woman successfully applied for public assistance at the Nishi-Tokyo city government in May 2010 under her younger sister's name.

She was quoted as telling officials: "A man who lives with me used up my savings in futures trading and other investments. Since I'm also in trouble with my parents, please don't contact [them]."

The woman applied for public assistance at other ward and city governments one after another, telling such lies as "I escaped from domestic violence," and using at least four names, including her own and that of a cousin. In March and April last year, she was receiving public aid from nine municipal governments simultaneously.

Typically, a local government contacts parents or other kin to confirm whether they can support the social aid applicant before a decision is granted to provide aid.

However, the woman refused to allow the officials to contact her family members or relatives, claiming she was a victim of domestic violence. This allowed her to keep her real identity a secret from local governments.

Many of the cheated local governments obtained copies of her family register to confirm her identity, but they could not tell she was lying because the names of her relatives did not appear on the family record.

In one case, the woman took local government officials to a vacant furnished apartment using a key she borrowed from the real estate agent and told them it was hers.

The scheme was revealed last year when the Adachi Ward Office asked her to submit housing rental receipts, which the officials noticed were falsified.

The ward office notified the Metropolitan Police Department, who then arrested her on fraud and other charges for allegedly illegally receiving about 530,000 yen in social aid using her cousin's name.

However, investigative sources said the woman died in October last year while her trial was in process.
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