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East Japan city employee warned for using official car to replace ice packs for cat at home


KASHIWA, Chiba -- An employee at the municipal government of this east Japan city received a warning on Oct. 26 for using the city's official car to go and replace ice packs for his pet cat at home this summer.

    The city of Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, punished a 57-year-old group chief at the waterworks department's water distribution division for allegedly using an official vehicle for private purposes. According to the municipal government, the employee used the car a total of 10 times between mid-June and late July during lunch breaks to make round trips to his home 2-3 kilometers away to replace ice packs for his pet. He left the workplace about 10 minutes before his lunch breaks three times among the 10 trips. He left the car at a private parking lot in front of his home without permission while changing the ice packs, and the city government became aware of his unauthorized use of the car after a parking space user asked the city about the official vehicle.

    The employee reportedly said, "The electricity bill became expensive last year because I left the air conditioner on when I left home, so I switched to using ice packs. They get warm by around noon, so I went home to replace them. Since I walk to work and it would take time (to travel back and forth by foot), I used the official car."

    The cat was a rescue and the worker had adopted it. The municipal government also gave a written warning to the 57-year-old water distribution division chief over their managing and supervising responsibility. The city will demand the employee return some 600 yen (about $5.30) in gasoline expenses.

    (Japanese original by Toshiaki Hashimoto, Kashiwa Local Bureau)

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