Subscribe

NAHA, Okinawa — Prefectural police arrested a 60-year-old Japanese man Monday for allegedly demanding a commission for helping another man get a job on a U.S. military base.

Choken Yara, a Camp Foster motor pool employee, was charged after allegedly demanding another man pay him 500,000 yen, about $4,500, in exchange for arranging for him to get a commissary job at Kadena Air Base.

Yara has denied the allegation, police said, noting he admitted to meeting the job seeker last spring at his home.

The alleged victim, Yara’s 27-year-old distant relative, told police Yara promised to put in a good word for the man, but would need a “commission fee” to seal the deal, police said.

He allegedly told the victim he could arrange the hiring through a friend.

The man said he gave Yara an envelope containing 500,000 yen during a meeting in the parking lot of an Okinawa City clothing store May 13 after he was hired.

The man reported the incident Aug. 19 after he learned from his new employer that he had been hired on his abilities and that no such commission fee can be demanded, police said.

Yara’s arrest was the first such fraud case filed by Okinawa Prefectural Police; he was in police custody Tuesday.

The alleged victim said he had been referred to Yara, whom he had never met, by another relative who had told him it might help if he had a recommendation from someone already working for the U.S. military.

Yara has been employed for years at the Marine Corps Community Services motor pool, police said.

“The victim thought that it would cost him a case of beer or something,” a police spokesman said.

The younger man received an informal job offer April 30 from the Koza Labor Management Office, a contracting agency that handles personnel matters for Japanese workers on military bases.

On May 12, he was hired; he began work May 25.

“When the new commissary worker called Yara to thank him for his help, that’s when Yara asked him for 500,000 yen that he said had been paid to his friend, who made the hiring arrangement,” the police spokesman said.

The payment to Yara was made the next day, but the alleged victim became suspicious when his Japanese supervisor at the commissary said he had no knowledge of the arrangement.

“The supervisor told him that he had never asked for or received any fee, even though he had been the person who made the hiring decision,” the police spokesman said.

Takumi Okazaki, Defense Facilities Administration Naha Bureau director said Tuesday the charge against Yara is serious.

“It is indeed deplorable if the accusation is true,” he said. “We are presently verifying the fact.

“Meanwhile, the agency is working closely with the U.S. military, which makes the final decision on personnel hiring, to appropriately handle the matter.”

This is not the first time Yara has been accused of seeking commissions in exchange for getting a job.

Yara was the focus of complaints filed by five part-time bus drivers earlier this year after they were turned down for full-time positions with Marine Corps Community Services’ bus line.

“He’s the man I accused of discriminating against experienced Filipino drivers who were turned down for the full-time positions in favor of less experienced Japanese drivers,” Amadao Madrigal said.

“… We knew pay-offs were involved, but we didn’t have any proof.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up