JAPAN'S agriculture ministry has reprimanded six bureaucrats for shirking their duties after an internal inquiry found that they had spent many work hours contributing to the Wiki-pedia website - including 260 entries about cartoon robots.
Using ministry computers, the civil servants together made 408 entries - on issues unrelated to farming matters - on the popular internet encyclopaedia since 2003, an official alleged yesterday.
One of the six is said to have focused solely on Gundam - a popular, long-running animated series about giant robots - to which he contributed 260 times. The series has spun off intricate toy robots popular among schoolchildren as well as adults known as "otaku" nerds.
"The agriculture ministry is not in charge of Gundam," said a ministry official, Tsutomu Shimomura.
The other five bureaucrats had mostly focused their Wikipedia contributions on movies, typographical mistakes on billboard signs and local politics, Mr Shimomura said.
The ministry's internal inquiry followed recent media allegations that a growing number of Japanese public servants were contributing to the internet encyclopaedia, which anyone can edit, often to reflect their personal views.
The ministry verbally reprimanded each of the six officials, and slapped a ministry-wide order to prohibit access to Wikipedia at work, while disabling access to the site from the ministry, Mr Shimomura said.
The ministry, however, did not object to their limited contributions on the World Trade Organisation and free trade agreements.
An Imperial Household Agency official was reprimanded last month for using an agency computer to delete references on Wikipedia that criticised imperial tombs.