A worker at a popular park in Tokyo cost the Japanese government millions of yen because he was too frightened to ask foreigners to pay the entry fee, it has emerged.
The 73-year-old admitted letting some 160,000 visitors into the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden for free after a tourist shouted at him.
The attendant, who has not been named, stopped charging the admission price of 200 yen (£1.40) for adults and 50 yen (35p) for children in April 2014.
He continued to allow overseas visitors to enter the garden without paying for about two and a half years until a colleague noticed and notified Japan’s environment ministry, which owns the park.
The lost revenue amounted to more than 25 million yen (£175,000), the ministry said this week.
After being confronted by his employers, the elderly attendant said he was wary of foreigners because he could only speak Japanese.
“I don’t speak any other languages, and I got scared when a foreigner began yelling at me a long time ago,” he explained, according to the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.
The man is said to have handed out tickets to the garden without asking for money before asking a colleague with access to cancel the transactions so there was no discrepancy between income and sales.
After his actions were discovered, the employee was docked wages and requested early retirement.
He has reportedly volunteered to give back half of his 300,000 yen (£2,000) retirement bonus.
Shinjuku Gyoen is a popular site to view blossoming cherry trees in spring and is located a short walk from Shinjuku station, the busiest transport hub in the world.
A former feudal lord’s residence dating back to the 18th century, it was opened to the public after the Second World War.
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