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Whale Disposal Controversy: Osaka Official Accused of Illegal Payment Hike

OSAKA, May 24 (News On Japan) - An Osaka city official, not in charge of the matter, strongly urged an increase in the payment amount to a contractor for the disposal of the whale 'Yodo-chan'.

In January 2023, a stray whale named 'Yodo-chan' was found near the mouth of the Yodo River. After its death, a maritime contractor, hired by Osaka City, sank the whale off the Kii Peninsula. Initially, the city estimated the disposal cost at 37.74 million yen, but the final negotiated amount more than doubled to 80.19 million yen.

During negotiations with the contractor, a manager who was not responsible for the task strongly recommended increasing the amount.

'Without offering more money, we can’t even discuss this. We need to present a figure exceeding 80 million yen,' the manager insisted to the department head, who required the approval of his superior.

The department head replied, 'There's no time to consult with superiors at this stage.'

On May 23, a civic group in Osaka filed a lawsuit against Mayor Yokoyama, claiming that the official involved was aware of the illegality of the contract. They demanded that the then-department head and the maritime contractor be held accountable for approximately 80 million yen in damages.

'In court, we want to clearly identify the wrongdoings and ensure that the money is returned,' said Kimi Ichigaki, one of the plaintiffs.

The city's audit committee has pointed out that there are still doubts about the propriety of the accounting for the disposal costs. The city plans to publish the investigation results by June.

Source: MBS

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