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'Confidentiality' stops even Japan's Olympic minister knowing full private firm spending

Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Tamayo Marukawa is seen answering a question at a meeting of the House of Representatives' Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration on April 19, 2021. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- Japan's Olympic minister has revealed that, due to issues of confidentiality, there are documents even she has not seen regarding expenses for private company personnel engaged by the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    At an April 19 meeting of the House of Representatives' Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration, Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Tamayo Marukawa said, "There are documents that (the organizing committee) won't show me due to confidentiality obligations." It has emerged that not even the minister in charge of the Olympics has been able to fully grasp details on the games' spending.

    Main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) member Takeshi Saiki pressed the matter, saying, "Aren't they invisible budgets?" Saiki maintained that while a job description for a "director" position on a temporary staffing agency's website specified a daily wage of around 12,000 yen (about $111), documents obtained by him showed the estimated unit for personnel spending, which consignment fee payments are based on, reached as much as 200,000 yen (about $1,850).

    During the question-and-answer session, Saiki said, "It's irresponsible to take out a whole 95% and give it to contracting companies." In response to this, Marukawa said, "As the Games need to be an event that is welcomed by the Japanese public, I'd like the organizing committee to provide a thorough explanation to improve transparency," and called on the organizing committee to be accountable.

    The Olympic minister explained that calculations of general administrative expenses -- which correspond to personnel costs and other expenses that arise when the organizing committee entrusts work to companies for the Tokyo Games -- are done based on national government standards. But Marukawa said she did "not know whether the spending is a large or small amount," and avoided giving a clear statement.

    The Mainichi Shimbun has reported that as much as 300,000 yen (about $2,775) per person per day was estimated for spending on contracting firms running venues for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, based on evidence found in internal documents from the organizing committee.

    The unit for personnel spending indicates the required cost for each worker, and serves as a basis for drawing up budgets. It differs from daily wages paid to laborers, as it comprises not only base pay, but also additional allowances for housing, transportation, and other purposes, as well as bonus pay and employers' contributions, including expenses for health insurance, retirement benefit reserve funds and nursing care insurance.

    The Tokyo Games organizing committee maintains that internal documents' units for personnel spending were "numbers for consideration" when drawing up consignment fees, and that there was no way it placed orders based on the amounts.

    (Japanese original by Yuki Takahashi, Business News Department)

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