Japan Highway whistle-blower vindicated by reinstatement

Japan Highway Public Corp. will reinstate a demoted senior official whose allegation in a July magazine article helped trigger the dismissal of Haruho Fujii as Japan Highway president last year, officials at the state-run road entity said Thursday.

Sachio Katagiri was transferred as a deputy branch head to the Shikoku branch from the JH headquarters on June 1 before being further demoted to an adviser there in August following the release of the article.

Katagiri, who in the article accused Fujii of concealing a financial statement showing negative net worth, will reclaim his post as chief adviser at the Tokyo headquarters on June 16, they said.

His wrangling with Fujii over the course of the organization’s reforms was apparently the reason behind his transfer.

Japan Highway President Takeshi Kondo said the organization will reinstate Katagiri on the principle of “placing the right person in the right place.”

“We need a talented person with a lot of experience who will be willing to work hard toward the privatization” of Japan Highway in fiscal 2005, he said.

The highway operator filed a libel suit against Katagiri in July, shortly after he criticized Fujii in an article in the monthly magazine Bungeishunju. But it dropped the suit in February after Kondo replaced Fujii as president.

Fujii was sacked by Nobuteru Ishihara, minister of land, infrastructure and transport, in October over a scandal involving the financial statement.