Three Japanese defense officials at the center of a bid-rigging scandal were slapped with additional charges yesterday in connection with construction projects at two US military bases, officials said.
The projects at Sasebo and Iwakuni bases were worth ¥18 billion (US$152 million), Defense Facilities Administration Agency spokesman Akio Watai said.
Tokyo prosecutors charged two senior engineering officials at the facilities agency -- Mamoru Ikezawa and Takayoshi Kawano, both 57 -- and Takashige Matsuda, 53, the head of a separate government-affiliated organization, Watai said.
He said the three conspired with manufacturers in eight construction projects at two US bases -- five related to runway relocation and ground improvement at Iwakuni and two involving seawalls at Sasebo -- as well as a separate construction project at the defense facility agency's Ichigaya complex in Tokyo, in fiscal 2004 and 2005.
Japan is home to about 50,000 US troops under a bilateral security treaty.
Tokyo District Prosecutors' Office said in a statement that the officials leaked information to the eight construction companies -- many of them Japan's leading construction giants -- in advance so that they could place the most desirable bids.
Officials from eight companies -- Kajima Corp, Toa Corp, Tekken Corp, Taisei Corp, Obayashi Corp, Penta Ocean Construction Co, Shimizu Corp and Nissan Rinkai Construction Co -- also faced fresh charges in the case, the prosecutors said.
Public broadcaster NHK said that the three defense officials acknowledged that bid rigging for defense projects has lasted 40 years.
The officials, arrested in January, were charged last month with conspiring with manufacturers to rig bids to install air conditioning systems at defense facilities between November 2004 and March last year.
"We apologize to the people for causing the grave situation," Defense Facilities Administration Agency chief Iwao Kitahara said in a statement.
"We will do our utmost so that we can recover the public's trust as soon as possible," he added.
The case is the latest in a series of bid-rigging scandals to surface in recent months. Japan has long been criticized for the practice, widespread in public works projects, which virtually shuts out foreign bidders.
Last month, two former officials of the state-owned operator of Narita International Airport pleaded guilty to bid-rigging in electrical construction projects, according to news reports.
Iwakuni, home to a US air station, is about 700km southwest of Tokyo. Sasebo is on the southern main island of Kyushu and is a site of a major US naval base.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies