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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 October 2 - 8  > Gov't should fulfill obligation to uncover money scandal involving KEPCO
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2019 October 2 - 8 [POLITICS]

Gov't should fulfill obligation to uncover money scandal involving KEPCO

October 6, 2019

Akahata editorial

The gravity of the money-recycling scandal in which top Kansai Electric Power Company executives had received about 320 million yen in cash and goods from Moriyama Eiji, the late former deputy mayor of Takahama Town (Fukui Pref.) where the KEPCO Takahama nuclear power plant is located is increasing. KEPCO on October 2 finally released an in-house investigative report describing who accepted what or how much, and how to handle gifts received by executives. However, the power company never revealed the heart of the scandal such as the money flow. As Top KEPCO executives were the key figures who accepted the gifts, the company which has no intent to change its coverup-attitude is not trustworthy to be tasked with uncovering the whole truth. The Abe government, therefore, should take the responsibility for setting up a fair and neutral third-party body to conduct thorough investigations into the allegations.

Sync with promotion of NPP resumption

According to the KEPCO report, the late Moriyama frequently gave the KEPCO executives not only cash but also vouchers for tailored suits, gold coins, and rare Japanese gold coins. These valuables were mainly thrown around to the KEPCO nuclear power division. In particular, two important persons of the utility's nuclear energy businesses accepted items worth more than 100 million yen each. KEPCO and the heavyweight of the NPP-hosting local municipality maintained such cosy ties for many years. The giving and receiving of huge sums of cash and extravagant gifts highlight how corrupt their relations were.

The KEPCO report is far from uncovering the full scope of the murky flow of money. Financial resources of the money came most likely from electricity charges paid by the general public. KEPCO admits to the fact that it placed an order for a substantial amount of work to a local construction firm which is said to have donated to the late deputy mayor about three million yen in funds. Nevertheless, KEPCO refuses to divulge further details. It claims that the value of orders and the procedures for work contracts with this firm were "adequate", but it is unconvincing because many sections in KEPCO documents regarding the firm in question are blacked out. It also repeats saying, "We don't know," about how the late deputy mayor raised the money.

KEPCO hid the in-house investigation team’s report from the public eye for a year after the report was compiled in September last year. Facing public criticism, the utility recently disclosed the report with reluctance. This also indicates that the power company continues to be secretive regarding the scandal and shows no sign of remorse over the matter.

The biggest reason why the extraordinarily corrupt ties were developed is because KEPCO attached top priority to the reactivation of its nuclear power plants. The in-house report notes that there was concern that if the company hurts the deputy mayor’s feelings, he may take action that would make it difficult for the utility to continue to operate the nuclear power plant. The report states that after the 2011 massive earthquake in northeastern Japan, to realize an early restart of idled nuclear reactors became the company’s urgent task and the power company launched major safety improvement works at its NPPs. Under this situation, the report goes on to state that the utility needs to make a favorable response to Moriyama more frequently. This notion suggests that KEPCO’s relationship with Moriyama grew stronger and more corrupt as the utility attempted to push forward with its move to reactivate off-line nuclear reactors after 2011.

The money scandal surfaced under the Abe government’s policy of promoting the reactivation of NPPs, throwing doubts on preconditions for the restart of idled reactors. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in his policy speech on October 4 did not mention anything about the allegation concerning KEPCO’s questionable nuclear business practices. Abe’s negligence in tackling the issue should be severely criticized.

Further investigation into scandal is important in current Diet session

KEPCO’s internal investigation report points out that the late deputy mayor had many contacts among officials of the Takahama Town and Fukui Prefectural governments as well as members of the prefectural assembly and Diet. This requires thorough investigation. So far, a Liberal Democratic Party branch headed by LDP Executive Acting Secretary-General Inada Tomomi, who is a House of Representatives member elected from the Fukui No.1 electoral district, received donations from a company which has a connection with the late deputy mayor. In addition, top officials of the Fukui prefectural government were found to have accepted vouchers from the former deputy mayor. Dietmembers should work to find out the truth behind the money scandal in the current Diet session convened last week.

Past related article:
> NPP-related money scandal involving KEPCO should be fully uncovered [September 29, 2019]

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