Japanese businesses repay COVID-19 subsidies amid crackdown
Firms in Japan that have received employment subsidies under special relief measures even though they were not eligible to do so have been returning the funds following revelations of unethical receipts by a major travel agency and Diet members’ offices.
“From around November last year, there’s been a rise in cases of companies contacting us to apologise and return the subsidies. Our investigations of these cases showed they were all illegitimate receipts,” said a Kanagawa Labor Bureau official, reports The Mainichi.
As of January 21, a total of 5.26 trillion yen (US$45.5 billion) had been distributed in employment subsidies. Of these, 261 cases were paid out to ineligible firms, which amounted to 3.2 billion yen (US$27.7 million) as of end-2021.
Labour bureaus in prefectures like Miyagi, Saitama and Tokyo told The Mainichi that they have seen an increase in return of payments, amounting to tens of millions of yen from firms claiming they received it even though they were not eligible for the subsidies.
Last November, it was reported that Tokyo-based travel agency World Air-Sea Service Co had fraudulently received 180 million yen (US$1.6 million) in funds.