Japanese school principal fired, loses $133K pension after getting caught stealing less than 50 cents worth of coffee

A principal in Japan has been fired after allegedly being caught underpaying for his coffee multiple times.

As a result, he will not receive his retirement pay valued at about 20 million yen ($133,000 USD).

The incident was reported in January in the city of Takasago, located in Hyogo Prefecture, Honshu, by local Japanese media.

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The 59-year-old male principal of a Takasago junior high school was reportedly busted after using a self-service coffee machine at a convenience store.

He allegedly had been pouring himself a large-size coffee while only paying for a regular-size coffee.

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Regular coffees sell for 110 yen (73 cents), but he was purportedly getting the larger size valued at 180 yen ($1.20), a difference of just 70 yen (47 cents).

The store clerk noticed, stopped the man, and immediately called the police, Japan Today reports.

The clerk claimed the man had done the sneaky act twice before.

The store did not press charges, but word got back to the school and during questioning by the Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education, the man is said to have admitted underpaying for coffee seven times, adding up to about 490 yen ($3.26) worth of coffee.

Japan Today reports the man did it the first time by accident, but repeated it, thinking he was getting away with it.

He told the board he did it “on the impulse of the moment” and declared that he was “truly sorry.”

He was reportedly fired on January 30, with the board citing “gross misconduct unbecoming of an educational public servant.”

The board members stated they were sorry “from the bottom of [their] hearts” for allowing it to happen.

According to Sora News, the incident led to heated debate online.

One person said: “He could have bought like 100,000 large coffees with those retirement benefits he lost.”

Another added: “He’s an older guy, he probably could have gotten away with saying he didn’t know how to use the machine.”

Takashi Sakata, a professor from Japan Women’s University, told news outlet Asahi that the punishment was “disproportionately severe.”

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