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2008年6月 8日 (日)


(Jun. 8, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Taxpayers' money mustn't be wasted

接待タクシー 税金を使う重さを自覚せよ(6月8日付・読売社説)

Public servants of the Finance Ministry and 12 other government ministries and agencies have been found to have received money or goods from drivers of taxis they used to return home late at night.


We wonder if they had no guilty feelings, or if their ethics are somehow removed from those of the general public.



So far, 520 public officials have been found to have been treated with money and goods by the drivers of taxis on a total of more than 12,000 occasions.


When they return home by taxi, the cost is covered by taxpayers' money. Receiving cash and goods in return for paying taxi fares is tantamount to pocketing a portion of taxpayer-paid taxi fares.


be tantamount to=~とみなされる)(tantamount=同等の、等しい)

If any of the taxi fares were inflated, and government officials received a portion of the fares as kickbacks, such acts would constitute embezzlement of public money. The ministries and agencies should thoroughly investigate the matter.



More than half of the government officials--383--are from the Finance Ministry, which should be strictly checking how taxpayers money is being used. Of them, 19 received cash or gift coupons. One Budget Bureau official received more than 1.8 million yen in cash or Quo prepaid cards in the last five years.


Such an act can be seen as a violation of the ethics rules governing central government officials that stipulate "they shall receive no benefits from others that go beyond what is regarded permissible in conventional wisdom."


It cannot be denied that the Finance Ministry has been less than careful about handling public money as, after all, it did not take any measures against such long-standing practices.



Officials slave into wee hours


Many of the government officials who were treated with beer and snacks reportedly thought it was part of the service offered by the driver and a perk that government officials could enjoy for doing overtime work until late at night.



If officials call a taxi driver they know, they can have a drink and sleep until the driver delivers them home without them having to give directions.


without them having to give directionswithout having them give directions=道順を案内することなしに)

It is understandable, to a certain extent, that they wanted to relax in their taxis, but receiving beer or other treats clearly goes too far.


Behind the frequent usage of taxis by central government officials is their working practices, which prompt them to mockingly describe their ministries as "Zanmusho" (Backlog Ministry) or "Tsujo Zangyosho" (Regular Overtime Ministry).


prompt someone to do=人にうながして~させる)(mockingly=あざけって、ふざけて)(backlog=残務)

It is necessary to review bureaucrats' working conditions, which require them to work into the wee hours preparing statements for cabinet ministers to give at the Diet in answer to questions by lawmakers, or doing some other duties.


(wee hours=朝の早い時間、未明)


Rivalry stiff among cabbies



Taxi drivers have been handing over money and goods to government officials out of their own pockets partly because of the cutthroat competition in the cab industry. Nearly 60,000 taxis crowd Tokyo's streets, and many of the drivers are paid solely on a commission basis.



The salary of taxi drivers can largely depend on how many regular long-distance customers they can get. Central government officials have been wonderful customers for cabbies.



But discounting taxi fares and returning a portion of the fare is a violation of the Road Transportation Law. Providing alcoholic drinks in taxis is also a violation of a rule voluntarily set by the taxi industry.



We hope that taxi drivers will abide by the rules and compete with each other by driving safely and being considerate to customers, rather than handing money and goods to them.


abide by=原理、規則、法規などに従って行動する)(considerate=思いやりのある)

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 8, 2008)

2008680150  読売新聞)


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