Tatsuo Okazaki, 34, a former employee of a Tokyo-based ticket machine manufacturing company, was arrested on a specific charge of stealing 39,000 yen (around $520) from the Yushukan ticket vending machine in June. Police said he has admitted to many more thefts.
“I knew the structure of the ticket vending machines, so it was easy for me to get into them,” police quoted Okazaki as saying. “For years I had been going there during work hours and stolen a few million yen.”
Police said Okazaki worked for the company that makes the Yushukan’s entrance ticket vending machines but had never been assigned to Yasukuni Shrine, nor was he supposed to carry out maintenance there. Nonetheless, over the past few years, he turned up at the museum and told officials he was there to inspect its two ticket vending machines. They gave him the keys to the machines and he removed money at will, police said.
Police added that Okazaki learned about the composition of the machines during his job training. They said he would adjust counters on the machines to conceal how much money he had taken from them.
Yushukan officials realized that Okazaki was looking at the machines with an inordinate frequency and that cash was disappearing each time he arrived. They reported the incident to the police and requested an investigation, which led to Okazaki’s arrest.
Yasukuni Shrine enshrines the souls of Japan’s war dead. Yushukan, located within the grounds of the shrine, contains exhibits related to Japan’s participation in conflicts, notably World War II.