TOKYO, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Millions of dollars of public funds in Japan are being used to prop up money-losing hotels run by mutual aid associations, the Finance Ministry reported.
From 2000 to 2009, the Federation of National Public Service Personal Mutual Aid Associations used up to $24.9 million per year in taxpayer funds to maintain its KKR Hotels, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported Tuesday.
The KKR Hotel chain includes 43 hotels that have received $210 million in taxpayer support in the past decade.
Hotels that run deficits for two consecutive years and are projected to continue losing money are expected to close. Since 1960, about 40 of the KKR Hotels have been closed, the newspaper said.
A Finance Ministry official said, "Association members get discounts at the hotels." As such, he said, "it's in the best interest of their welfare" to receive taxpayer assistance.
However, "Using public funds to support hotels run by a public organization is another form of compensation for civil servants," said economics Professor Takero Doi of Keio University.
"The hotels shouldn't receive public money from the central and local governments, and should instead be self-supporting," he said.