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Japanese officials accused of gift-taking

June 6, 2008 at 7:06 PM

TOKYO, June 6 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda criticized more than 500 government officials for accepting gifts such as cash and material goods from taxicab drivers.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said at a House of Representatives committee gathering Friday that at least 502 officials accepted favors from cab drivers.

Fukuda said the ministry members ''shouldn't be doing anything whatsoever that might incur suspicions among the people. I wonder why they can't stick to such a self-evident matter.''

Fukuda's comments came Friday at a meeting of the House of Representatives' Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration, Kyodo reported.

Fukuda said he wants to conduct a complete investigation and take "rigorous" actions to discipline officials involved in the alleged gift-taking.

Machimura said there had been about 12,400 instances in which ministry members took gifts during cab rides, Mainichi Shumbun reported.

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