Photo/Illutration Passengers pass through automated ticket gates at Kita-senri Station in Suita, Osaka Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

OSAKA--A man in his 50s dodged the train fare for his job commute over four years, pocketing hundreds of thousands of yen that he used for "play money," according to police.

Osaka prefectural police on Dec. 9 referred the case to prosecutors alleging that the employee at the Kansai regional office of Hitachi Systems Ltd. violated the Railway Operation Law.

The 51-year-old man purchased a platform ticket for 120 yen ($1.10) at JR Koriyama Station in Yamato Koriyama, Nara Prefecture, on the morning of July 23, according to the Tenma Police Station of the prefectural police.

He then took the train to Kitashinchi Station in Osaka's Kita Ward, where the company he works for is located.

However, the fare was 710 yen at the time. Instead of paying the difference, he passed through an automated ticket gate by walking closely behind a commuter before the gate shut.

The man repeatedly did so over four years, stealing a total of about 800,000 yen from West Japan Railway Co. (JR West), police said.

Police attached a note for the prosecutors saying that the man should receive a harsh penalty.

Police began investigating the case in mid-May when a passenger notified the train operator about the scheme.

The man had been receiving money for a commuter pass from his company.

Police said he admitted to the charges, telling investigators, "I did it for four years because I wanted some play money."

A Hitachi Systems spokesperson said, "We'll respond harshly to the matter after confirming the facts."