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File on personnel, pay and media relations missing at Imperial Household Agency

The Imperial Household Agency is seen on the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- A file of public documents on 26 items including personnel affairs, salaries and responses to the media is missing from the Imperial Household Archives, the Mainichi Shimbun has discovered through a freedom of information request.

The file was supposed to be stored permanently under the Public Records and Archives Management Act, and opened to any inquiry from the public. It is unclear if the papers were mistakenly discarded. An official at the Imperial Household Agency's Archives and Mausolea Department said they are "very sorry" for what happened.

The missing file is titled "Juyo zatsuroku Heisei 9 nendo" (Important miscellaneous records, 9th fiscal year of the Heisei era). Documents in the file included a fiscal 1997 list of people who worked hard behind the scenes during the Imperial Couple's visit to South America, the results of a survey on a variety of agency official allowances, and a note on cooperation for a TV show.

In June, the Mainichi requested the agency to disclose 14 files of public documents made from fiscal 1985 through 1999, including the missing file. All of them had been moved to the Imperial Household Archives for permanent storage. The agency had been preparing to disclose those 14 files to the Mainichi, but could not locate the 1997 file.

This screen capture of the Imperial Household Agency website shows the building of the Archives and Mausoleum Department and shelves containing public and classical documents.

The file was listed as accessible by the public in the archives' document catalogue in November 2013. According to the archives department, the file was on a shelf in the department at that time.

The Imperial Household Archives keeps documents that were made or acquired by the prewar Imperial Household Ministry, the postwar Imperial Household Office and its successor the Imperial Household Agency, and were determined as requiring indefinite storage. The archives has approximately 91,000 items in its collection.

(Japanese original by Tsuyoshi Goto, City News Department)

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