LDP Suzuki may have rigged bid for overseas assistance

Diet debates have cast more doubt on Liberal Democratic Party Dietmember Suzuki Muneo in that he may indeed have had a role in unfair bidding in connection with a Foreign Ministry assistance program to four Northern Islands off Hokkaido.

Kijima Hideo on behalf of the Japanese Communist Party revealed this at the House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on February 21.

Based on an inner document (dated November 2, 1999) of the "Assistance Committee" established to arrange economic assistance for the Russian-held "Northern Territory" under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry, Kijima revealed the following:

On June 3, 1999, ten days before the bidding of the construction of a shelter/inn on Kunashiri Island was announced by a local paper, an engineering member of Nippon Koei, a major consulting company, visited Suzuki's local office in Nemuro City in Hokkaido, and met with the presidents of the construction companies which eventually won the bid.

Also, on December 28, the president of the consulting firm issued an 'apology' to the 'Assistance Committee' for leaking information on the bidding.

These facts indicate that the estimated amount of the shelter construction was leaked to the successful bidder, Kijima pointed out.

In the previous day's committee, JCP Sasaki Kensho pointed out that Suzuki urged the ministry to designate Watanabe Construction Co., together with its JV partner, as successful bidders for the construction of the inn (later called "Muneo House").

As political funds to Suzuki, Watanabe Construction Co. donated 2.5 million yen (130 yen = 1 dollar) in 1999 when it 'received' an order for the shelter construction, and 1.5 million yen in 1998, while it was only half a million yen in 1997, Kijima said.

Foreign Minister Kawaguchi Yoriko promised to inquire into the matter, and Justice Minister Moriyama Mayumi answered that investigation is needed to check if the case amounts to rigged bidding.

Kijima called for summoning Suzuki and his secretary as witnesses before the committee, and urged the Foreign Ministry and its related organizations to submit documents concerned. (end)