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KEPCO execs’ acceptance of huge gifts angers local consumers, Fukushima evacuees

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Kansai Electric Power Co. Chairman Makoto Yagi, left, and President Shigeki Iwane, center, head to a news conference in Osaka’s Fukushima Ward on Oct. 2, 2019.
 
October 3, 2019
OSAKA — The finding that Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) executives accepted a huge amount of gifts from a former senior official of a town hosting one of its nuclear plants has sparked anger among local consumers and people who evacuated to the Kansai region in western Japan in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
It has also come to light that the late senior official, Eiji Moriyama, former deputy mayor of the Fukui Prefecture town of Takahama, himself received 300 million yen in commission from a local construction company that was hired for projects at a nuclear complex. This has raised suspicions that money paid by KEPCO to the construction company was returned to the utility in the form of gifts from the top local government official, who had influence on nuclear power projects.
“The electricity bills we paid ended up being pocketed by executives of KEPCO,” lamented a 78-year-old man from Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, west of Osaka. He also criticized the company’s in-house punishments — including two-month pay cuts and severe reprimands — as being “too lenient.” “They should gracefully step down,” he said.
Hideo Iida, secretary-general of the liaison council of Osaka consumers affairs organizations, described the executives’ acceptance of the huge gifts as “outrageous.” He said the money and gifts that KEPCO executives accepted from Moriyama “can obviously be traced to money collected from consumers as electricity bills.”
“Specific reasons why KEPCO, which is a major company in the Kansai region and a contractee, were so afraid of Moriyama (that they say they couldn’t return the money and gifts to him) remain unclear. Further information disclosure is necessary,” he said.
A 44-year-old woman who voluntarily fled from the city of Fukushima to Osaka Prefecture with her three children following the outbreak of the nuclear crisis in March 2011, said the scandal has deepened her distrust in electric power companies.
“I thought, ‘Oh no, not again,'” she said. “While there are no prospects for restoration of the (nuclear) disaster-hit areas, a massive amount of money is being moved behind the scenes to restart idled nuclear plants. It’s so insincere,” she lamented.
At the latest news conference, KEPCO President Shigeki Iwane, who also heads the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, expressed enthusiasm about promoting the use of atomic power.
“KEPCO executives accepted cash and gifts from Moriyama apparently because the utility felt that it couldn’t win local residents’ understanding of restarting nuclear power plants if it went by an orthodox method. They should keep in mind that the nuclear disaster threatened people’s livelihoods,” said the woman.

October 8, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Scandal-hit head of Japan’s Kansai Electric has no plans to resign

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October 2, 2019
Scandal highlights corporate governance challenges
* Executives admitted taking $3 million in cash and gifts
* Official had sought support for local economy -report
By Junko Fujita
TOKYO, Oct 2 (Reuters) – The president of Japan’s Kansai Electric Power Co has no intention of resigning, he said on Wednesday, after admitting that he and 19 company employees had received payments and gifts worth 320 million yen ($3 million).
The scandal, at a time when the Japanese public’s trust in nuclear power companies is already at rock-bottom, suggests that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for better corporate governance still has a long way to go in the world’s third-largest economy.
Shigeki Iwane, who admitted last week to receiving payments, told a news conference he wanted to stay in his position and regain the public’s confidence.
“I want to fulfil my responsibilities by taking leadership in finding the cause of what happened and taking preventive measures,” Iwane told a news conference broadcast live on NHK.
Kansai Electric earlier announced that its internal investigation found that 20 executives, including Iwane, had received cash, gift certificates and business suits from Eiji Moriyama, the now deceased deputy mayor of Takahama, where the company has a nuclear power station.
The report did not give an overall total of how much had been paid, but Iwane has previously said he and the others received 320 million yen in cash and gifts over a seven-year period.
Moriyama exerted influence over local government officials, the internal report said, and sought to influence them to support the local economy and use local businesses as suppliers.
The payments raise governance concerns because they were disclosed only after the matter was raised by the local tax bureau, said Moody’s analyst Yukiko Asanuma.
“The cash payments … add to existing negative public sentiment around nuclear power generation,” Asanuma said.

October 8, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan utility execs received payments from town official

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By MARI YAMAGUCHI
September 27, 2019
TOKYO (AP) – A Japanese public utility admitted Friday that 20 of its executives, including its president, received $3 million in cash and gifts over seven years from a former town official in western Japan where it has a nuclear power plant.
The admission underscores the continuing collusion between officials and Japan’s nuclear industry.
Kansai Electric Power Co. President Shigeki Iwane acknowledged that he and the executives received the gifts from the former deputy mayor of Takahama town in 2011-2018. Former Kansai Electric Chairman Makoto Yagi, who also was chairman of the powerful industry group Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan in 2011-2016, was also a recipient.
The case surfaced during a tax inspection.
Iwane apologized and said the money was mostly returned.
He said he first met the man soon after becoming Kansai Electric president in 2016 and was given a congratulatory gift.
Iwane said he resisted but accepted it because he was afraid that hurting the influential man’s feelings would harm the company’s business. Public trust in nuclear safety had been shattered in Japan following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“I was afraid that insisting on returning the gifts would strain our relations and may cause an adverse impact on our nuclear business in the region,” he said. He refused to say what the gift was, but said he kept it in a safe and was planning to return it to the man later.
Trade and industry minister Isshu Sugawara called the scandal “outrageous.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that “As public utility operators, public trust is indispensable. It’s a serious problem that they accepted money and gifts in such a murky way.”
No criminal charges have been filed, but legal experts said Kansai Electric officials may be guilty of bribery if the flow of the money was premeditated.
Media reports said the money had been received by the Takahama official as a “handling fee” from a contractor at the nuclear plant.
Iwane said the contract between the utility and the contractor was appropriate and that he and other executives were not aware that the money was coming from an alleged kickback.
Such payments are illegal and if Kansai Electric executives were aware of where the money came from, they could be held liable for breach of trust, said lawyer and former prosecutor Yasuyuki Takai.
“As top executives of a public utility that serves as the foundation of Japan’s energy industry, they should not have done that, regardless of the criminality of the case,” he said in an interview with NHK public television.
Local officials said the former deputy mayor was a powerful fixer who brought two nuclear reactors to the town.
“Traditionally, nuclear plants and host communities tend to be closely bound by money,” Kenichi Oshima, an economics professor at Ryukoku University in Kyoto and an expert on nuclear energy costs and finance, told NHK.

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan vows to cooperate in French Olympic probe

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Japan vowed to cooperate with a French probe into $2 million allegedly paid to help Tokyo secure the 2020 Olympics on Monday, as the son of ex-world athletics chief Lamine Diack denied receiving the money.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he had ordered full cooperation with the French investigation into the payments, sent to a Singapore bank account which has been linked to Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack.

Japanese officials have been swift to deny wrongdoing in what is the most serious in a series of problems to affect the 2020 Games, including over the main stadium’s design and the event’s official logo.

French prosecutors said last week they suspect the payments were intended to help secure the 2020 Olympics for Tokyo, which beat out competition from Istanbul and Madrid.

Japan’s Olympic chief last week insisted the payments were a “legitimate consultant’s fee”, while the top government spokesman insisted the bid was “clean”.

And Prime Minister Abe told parliament on Monday: “I have instructed the education and sports minister to fully cooperate in the investigation.”

“Education and sports minister Hiroshi Hase told the Japanese Olympic Committee and the former bid committee to cooperate in the investigation,” he added, according to Jiji Press.

French prosecutors said some 2.8 million Singapore dollars (1.8 million euros, $2 million) were paid to the now defunct Black Tidings consulting company, which Britain’s Guardian newspaper has linked to Papa Massata Diack.

Lamine Diack was an International Olympic Committee member in 2013 when Tokyo won the hosting rights for 2020. Diack and his son already face corruption charges in France.

– ‘Let them investigate’ –

The payments were discovered as part of an inquiry into allegations the Diacks organised bribes to cover up failed dope tests by Russian athletes, French prosecutors said. France became involved as the money may have been laundered in Paris.

But Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack, speaking to Kyodo News agency in his native Senegal, insisted he hadn’t received any money from the Tokyo bid team.

“I haven’t got any money,” he said in Dakar. “Let them investigate… I have nothing to hide,” he added.

He added that he had been friends with Ian Tan Tong Han, formerly the sole proprietor of Black Tidings, since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But he said he didn’t know Tan’s company was contracted by the Japanese bid team.

“I’ve been in this sports business for 25 years. I know the rules,” Diack said, adding that Tokyo’s bid “shouldn’t be tarnished” and had been done “very fairly”.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the Japanese Olympic Committee president who led Tokyo’s bid, said the money was for “professional services” for consulting work.

“I never knew there was a link (between the company and Papa Massata Diack),” Takeda told lawmakers in parliament on Monday. “Anyway, if it is in the realm of acquaintance there is no problem,” he added.

“Internationally it is quite common” to have a contract with an international consultant, Takeda added.

The controversy comes after Tokyo had to scrap its original main stadium design due to its eye-watering price tag, and also had to weather plagiarism accusations over the Games’ initial logo.

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3592261/Japans-Abe-vows-cooperation-French-Olympic-payments-probe.html

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment