A Former Japanese Diplomat Sentenced for Machinations in Rendering Assistance to Projects in Russia

A former Japanese diplomat has been sentenced conditionally for one and a half years for involvement in financial machinations whilst rendering assistance to Russia.

As has been announced in Tokyo, the district court of the Japanese capital passed this sentence to 38-year-old deputy chief of the department for rendering assistance to Russia of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Akira Mazjima and gave him a three-year probation period.

Akira Mazjima is accused of a collusion with another high-ranking diplomat Masaru Sato in the illegal spending of 33 million yens (about 282,000 US dollars) from the state fund for the energy project on one of the islands of the South Kurils.

The scandal burst out in February 2002 when the Japanese authorities started prosecuting former member of the Japanese parliament and prominent leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Muneo Suzuki. He was unofficially regarded in Japan as a political supervisor of Tokyo diplomacy with regard to Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union. Sato and Mazjima, as is asserted, were among the members of Suzuki's close entourage.

The former parliamentarian was arrested and accused of personally influencing, for selfish purposes, the process of distributing state orders within the framework of the government programme for rendering humanitarian aid to the inhabitants of the South Kuril Islands and of receiving a bribe of five million yens (40,000 dollars).

Moscow has viewed all the events connected with this scandal as an internal affair of the Japanese government.