The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Mayor in Kyushu admits to ‘bribe’ from company in nuclear business

Shintaro Wakiyama, mayor of Genkai, Saga Prefecture, speaks at a news conference on Jan. 23.
January 24, 2020
GENKAI, Saga Prefecture–The mayor here said Jan. 23 that he received–but returned–what he suspected was a bribe from a contractor tied to an individual known to have lavished gifts on nuclear power company executives.
Shintaro Wakiyama, 63, said at a news conference at the Genkai town office that he received “about 1 million yen ($9,140)” from Shiohama Industry Corp. in July 2018, immediately after he was elected mayor for the first time.
He said he returned the money to the company, which is based in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, through an acquaintance in December 2019.
Wakiyama also said he recently learned that the acquaintance had died soon after the money was returned, but he did not provide any details about the intermediary.
A Shiohama Industry official said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun that the company has received 1 million yen, apparently from Wakiyama.
“No employee can recount how our company handed cash (to the mayor),” the official said.
But the official explained that Shiohama Industry was seeking to expand its nuclear plant-related business.
“Heads of municipalities with nuclear power plants have influence over electric power companies,” the official said.
Genkai hosts a nuclear power plant, and Wakiyama has expressed his support for nuclear power generation.
Under the Political Fund Control Law, companies and organizations are prohibited from giving donations to politicians or their support groups.
Donations from individuals are permitted, but if the sum from one person exceeds 50,000 yen a year, the recipients must describe the donation in their income and expenditure reports on political funds.
The 1 million yen from Shiohama Industry was not listed in any of Wakiyama’s reports.
“I thought it was a temporary deposit,” the mayor said. “I cannot offer any rebuttal if the legality (of the money) is called into question. I was too naive.”
He said he will consult his supporters about his next course of action.
Wakiyama said he was suspicious of the money from the start.
He explained that several days after the mayoral election was held on July 29, 2018, two men connected to Shiohama Industry visited his home.
The men tried to hand Wakiyama something wrapped in small silk cloth, saying, “This is a congratulatory present,” according to the mayor.
Wakiyama said he caught sight of an envelope for gift money, so he told the men, “I don’t want it.”
But the men insisted, saying they would be “scolded” if they failed to deliver the present.
They put the envelope, along with a business card of the company’s president, at the doorway of Wakiyama’s home and left.
“I felt like I received a bribe,” Wakiyama recalled.
He said he felt a sense of shame but kept the money in a safe.
“I was too busy after becoming mayor and didn’t have time to go to faraway Fukui Prefecture to return the money,” he said.
Also located in Fukui Prefecture is the town of Takahama, where Eiji Moriyama had served as deputy mayor.
Moriyama, who died in March last year at the age of 90, had helped to bring nuclear power plants to the prefecture.
He also had close ties with Shiohama Industry, according to an industry source.
Several executives related to nuclear power operations at Kansai Electric Power Co. have resigned for receiving cash and other presents from Moriyama. They said he had demanded contracts from the utility for his company.
News of that scandal, which surfaced in September, “made me feel more and more that I needed to return (the money),” Wakiyama said.
After learning that his acquaintance had a connection with Shiohama Industry, the mayor gave the company’s money to the acquaintance in Genkai in mid-December, according to Wakiyama.
He said that after a few days, he received a phone call from the acquaintance: “The money has been returned to the manager of the company’s Tokyo branch.”
Wakiyama, who was elected as a town assembly member for the first time in 2001, declined to reveal the name and occupation of the acquaintance, citing privacy, but said that person died soon after the phone call.
An employee at Shiohama Industry’s headquarters in Tsuruga told The Asahi Shimbun, “It is highly likely that the head of the company’s Osaka branch, who died in December 2018, visited the mayor with a corporate adviser and handed (the money) directly to the mayor.”
Shiohama Industry has done civil engineering and construction work in the Wakasa region of Fukui Prefecture, home to 15 nuclear reactors, the most in the nation.
These reactors include ones operated by Kansai Electric Power at its Takahama nuclear power plant, as well as decommissioned units.
According to company documents, Shiohama Industry has received contracts for projects at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Shimane nuclear power plant operated by Chugoku Electric Power Co. and the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co.
A former senior official of Kansai Electric Power said that Moriyama and Shiohama Industry “had known each other since at least 20 years ago.”
(This article was written by Matsuo Watanabe, Manabu Hiratsuka and Shingo Fukushima.)

February 1, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

109 Fukui officials received money in Kansai Electric gift scandal

November 21, 2019
Can someone say quid pro quo? In a scandal that continues to rock the Fukui prefecture, an investigation involving a former mayor and major utility has now found that more than 100 former and current gov’t officials received gifts or money!
This photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on May 30, 2019, shows the No. 3, left, and No. 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan.
November 21, 2019
FUKUI, Japan (Kyodo) — A total of 109 current and former Fukui prefectural officials received money and other gifts from a former deputy mayor of Takahama who is at the heart of a gift scandal involving Kansai Electric Power Co., an investigative committee said Thursday.
The committee set up by the prefecture last month had been looking into whether Eiji Moriyama exercised influence over the central Japan prefecture’s public work projects, after the late deputy mayor of Takahama was found to have given massive gifts to the utility’s top officials.
The revelation that the utility officials received a total of 320 million yen ($3 million) worth of gifts from 2006 led to the resignation of its Chairman Makoto Yagi. Kansai Electric operates a nuclear plant in Takahama and Moriyama, who died in March, served as an adviser to its subsidiary for more than 30 years.
The three committee members, all lawyers, interviewed about 300 people including former governors, deputy governors and other senior officials in compiling their report.
Moriyama had also served as a human rights researcher for the prefecture between 1971 and 2018.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

Tokyo 2020 Games: Japan Olympics chief Tsunekazu Takeda quits

Tsunekazu Takeda announced his resignation to the media on Tuesday
March 19, 2019
The head of Japan’s Olympic Committee (JOC) is stepping down over corruption allegations relating to the awarding of the 2020 Games to Tokyo.
Tsunekazu Takeda is being investigated by French prosecutors who are looking into claims a 2m Euro (£1.7m) bribe was paid to secure Tokyo’s winning bid.
Tokyo was awarded the Games in 2013, beating Madrid and Istanbul.

March 25, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

French prosecutors launch probe into Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic bid


In this Sept. 7, 2013, file photo, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, Governor of Tokyo and Chairman of Tokyo 2020, Naoki Inose, second from left, and other members of the Japanese delegation celebrate as International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge announces that Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic Games during the 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


In this Aug. 21, 2015, file photo, then-IAAF president Lamine Diack adjusts his headphones during a joint IOC and IAAF news conference on the site of the World Athletic Championships in Beijing. French prosecutors say $2 million associated with Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympics was apparently paid to an account linked to the son of the disgraced former IAAF president Diack in the months immediately before and after the Japanese capital won the games.

PARIS/TOKYO (Kyodo) — French prosecutors announced Thursday they have launched an investigation into Tokyo’s campaign to host the 2020 Olympics for alleged corruption and money laundering.

A statement from the prosecutors said a total of 2.8 million Singapore dollars ($2.04 million) has been transferred from a Japanese bank to one in Singapore related to Papa Massata Diack, the son of former International Association of Athletics Federations President Lamine Diack, in July and October 2013 under the name of “Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Bid.”

The prosecutors said they have confirmed there were huge outlays by Diack’s side during the same time in Paris. Tokyo was awarded the Games in September 2013 when Diack was an International Olympic Committee member and was known as an influential power broker in the committee.

“How much influence the former president could have had on other committee members will be the focal point of the investigation,” a French judicial authority member told reporters.

“We carried out our bidding campaign fairly. There’s no issue or things to get worried about,” said Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda, who was the chief of the bidding team. “We’ll reply properly if we get asked (by the IOC).”

Olympic minister Toshiaki Endo also said in a TV program he takes pride in Tokyo making a clean bid and denied the allegations.

Japan’s top government spokesman earlier Thursday denied allegations of bribery, saying the government understands the organizing committee conducted the campaign in an appropriate manner.

“We understand the campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Games was conducted in a clean way,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference after British newspaper the Guardian reported the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee paid 1.3 million euros ($1.48 million) to the account of Diack’s son.

Suga said he was “not aware of” the report, which also said French authorities were investigating the allegations. “If we receive a request (for investigation) from French judicial authorities, our country will respond appropriately,” he added.

Suga said the Japanese government has no plan to question the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games or conduct its own investigation into the allegations.

The account in question became a vital piece of the puzzle related to what has been alleged as being institutional corruption at athletics’ governing body.

Complicating the scandal further, the report said Japanese marketing and advertising behemoth Dentsu Inc. has previously been linked to the Diack clan through its long-running sponsorship contract with the IAAF, a deal that was extended by Diack just months before his presidency ended. Dentsu has been previously linked to scandals at both the IAAF and world soccer’s governing body FIFA.

The prosecutors launched an investigation into corruption in the IAAF and Diack was arrested in December, accused of accepting bribes to cover up doping offenses.

A report in January from the prosecutors claimed that Diack did not support the bid from Tokyo’s rival Istanbul as Turkey didn’t pay similar sponsorship money to the IAAF.

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment