A stay at a Texas air force base was a little too tempting for one Japanese military officer, who is accused of embezzling big money to feed his sports card habit.
An Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) officer who pocketed approximately $240,000 (28 million yen) from state coffers to purchase trading cards in the United States has been arrested, Japanese military officials said.
Major Akinori Murata, 34, who works for the accounting division at the Air Staff Office, was arrested by the force’s Tokyo District Air Criminal Investigation Squadron for embezzlement in the conduct of business.
Murata has admitted to the allegations, saying he used the money to purchase trading cards of athletes and for other purposes. It is the highest amount ever embezzled by an ASDF member, the force said.
"We are taking the case seriously and will take measures so that such misconduct never happens again," said ASDF Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami.
Murata was dispatched to Texas for two years from September 2005 and was in charge of managing the living expenses of 114 ASDF personnel who were sent to the U.S. for training, according to the force.
Using the Internet at home, Murata transferred the money from the public fund account into his own account. Murata did not produce a report after returning to Japan last September, the police said, adding he admitted to the irregularities after being questioned.
The Tokyo District Air Criminal Investigation Squadron has confiscated about 3,500 trading cards that Murata purchased and stored in two cardboard boxes. The cards included baseball and soccer cards, the squadron said.
The force has announced that it will shorten the cycle of audit in order to prevent a recurrence.