Civil servants and government officials enter into a sacred trust with the people of the nation they serve. So when investigators determined that a half-dozen members of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force had violated that trust by misusing government property, those transgressions had to be dealt with.
So this week punishments were handed down to the men for unauthorized eating of curry.
Curry has long been associated with sailors in Japan. The dish was first introduced to the country by visiting English seamen, and to this day Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels and facilities regularly serve the dish. At Hachinohe Air Base, a naval air station in Aomori Prefecture, it was found that an officer in his 50s had been eating curry from the base’s chow hall every Friday between July of 2017 and March of 2020.
However, this chow hall curry is only supposed to be supplied to personnel living in a base’s barracks or stationed on ships docked at a facility. The officer, falling into neither group, was not eligible for these free curry meals. An investigation into his curry transgressions found that 20 other administrators, clerks, and non-eligible staff had regularly been eating curry on Fridays for intervals of varying lengths since 2012, with the officer doing nothing to correct their behavior either. “People had been doing this, calling it ‘tasting,’ since before I became stationed [at Hachinohe Air Base]. I did not think it was a serious breach of regulations,” the officer said.
Nevertheless, on Monday the tribunal handling the incident handed down disciplinary action, suspending the officer from duty for five days and also imposing four-to-five-day suspensions on five other regulation-breaking curry eaters, with one person’s infractions having taken place all the way back in the period from April 2012 to March 2015.
The suspensions likely also involve forfeiture of pay for the missed days.
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