Japanese auditors are not supposed to be in the business of auditing the private lives of the rich.
But they do have a big responsibility.
The country’s audit watchdog, Free Seomitsu, has said it will investigate any case where there is a dispute about whether the taxman has actually paid the tax.
But a report by Japan’s Financial Times newspaper last week showed the country’s tax inspectors had spent almost $3 billion on auditing for tax evasion over the last six years, with no arrests, prosecutions or convictions.
This raises questions about how well the country has tackled the problem.
“I think there is an issue in Japan of tax evasion,” said Masato Takahashi, director of the Centre for Tax and Government Reform at Tokyo University of Economics and Business.
“It’s hard to see how the Japanese have come to a resolution.”
Audit firms, who say they help governments and public servants, often receive government contracts to audit large numbers of firms, even if the firms are not under government scrutiny.
In a 2013 survey of Japanese businesses, the accounting firm BAM Group said about 80 per cent of firms had been audited in the last five years.
“There is no doubt that some firms are under audit, but it is not clear if this is related to a lack of government oversight or not,” the report said.
Its report said the country was not yet ready to crack down on tax evasion.
“Many firms, especially those that have been in the private sector for many years, have not been properly audited.
In the case of auditors, it is more likely that the firms were audited as part of the audit process rather than as part a formal investigation,” it said.”
But this could be changing as the Japanese government’s audit reforms take effect, and firms will need to report any discrepancies in their accounts,” the paper added.
In recent years, some private firms have reported a surge in tax evasion, with the government saying it would like to see the number of cases dropped to a level where tax evasion is not a major problem.
But the issue of audit is not entirely a Japanese problem.
The Japanese government is also investigating a massive fraud case involving one of the countrys biggest firms, the Toyota Group, after a group of former executives, including a former boss, were convicted of running a massive scheme to defraud the government of millions of dollars.
The Toyota group was forced to pay $1.7bn to settle the case, and it is alleged that the Japanese company has paid more than $100m to settle more than 60 tax evasion cases.
Japan has not been immune to auditing scandals.
In 2016, two women in Japan were arrested and charged with embezzlement and fraud after it was revealed that a company owned by the wife of a former Toyota executive was using a Japanese tax haven to avoid paying taxes.
The woman, Shizuka Tanaka, was convicted and jailed for a year, but was released last month after the Japanese Supreme Court agreed to review her case.