'It can't be returned,' claims a Japanese family who received a $360,000 COVID subsidy by mistake.

On Friday, a town in western Japan announced that a family who received 46.3 million yen (about $361,450) in COVID-19 subsidies by mistake said they were unable to return the money.

The municipality of Abu in Yamaguchi Prefecture proposed to disburse COVID subsidy monies to 463 low-income families who would be excused from paying residential taxes. Each household that applied was given 100,000 yen (about $781 USD).

A treasury employee provided a bank list with the names of 463 applicants on April 1 in preparation for transferring the subsidies to each household's bank account. The treasury employee then handed out a money transfer form with only one applicant five days later. As a result, one household received the 46.3 million yen that was supposed to go to 463 different households.

The recipient indicated that they intended to return the money before the town lost communication with them on April 21, after which they informed the town that they would be unable to do so promptly.

"The funds have already been transferred and cannot be retrieved." According to The Mainichi, the applicant informed the municipality, "I'm not going to run and I'm willing to pay for my fault."

The municipality is currently working with lawyers and the Yamaguchi Prefectural Police to recover the funds. Norihiko Hanada, the mayor of Abu, said in a press conference on Friday that the situation is "very regrettable" and that the municipality is working "really hard" to remedy the problem.

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