Up to seven years after the event, the publicly-owned Japanese Broadcasting Corporation belatedly revealed last Friday a systematic fraud by four employees who embezzled money including fees collected from the public.

It is not the scale of the fraud -- which totalled a relatively insignificant ¥9.7 million ($88.6k; €72.8k; £49.43k) -- that makes the affair newsworthy, but the long and curious delay by JBC in publicly admitting the incidents.

The embezzlements occurred between 1997 and 2001 and might not have come into the public domain at all had they not been uncovered by an internal investigation into a separate scandal involving a producer who had misappropriated program-production costs.

The fraudulent foursome were dismissed on separate occasions between 1997 and 2001 after admitting to the offences and returning the stolen money.

The reason for this [dis]honourable silence by the broadcaster?

Concern for the miscreants' privacy, it claims. Citing this as a justification for its economy with the truth, JBC declined to disclose the names of the offenders or the details of their misconduct.

Defending their decision to remain silent, JBC executives insisted the corporation had not tried to cover up the embezzlement cases and would have divulged them if asked to do so! In future, they promised, such crimes will be disclosed in JBC reports and at news conferences.

Data sourced from: The Asahi Shimbun (Japan); additional content by WARC staff