Poultry exec pleads guilty in bird flu case


The president of a chicken farm operator pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of failing to report an outbreak of bird flu at a farm in Kyoto Prefecture earlier this year.

Hideaki Asada, president of Asada Nosan Co., is charged with violating the Domestic Animal Infectious Diseases Control Law.

Prosecutors told the Kyoto District Court that Asada, 41, and his company, based in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, planned to ship all the remaining chickens from its farm in Tanba, Kyoto Prefecture, in February, after some 10,000 birds had died at the farm.

Asada meanwhile failed to alert the authorities — even though he was aware that the chickens might have been dying of avian flu, the prosecutors said.

The prosecutors believe that the company tried to conceal the outbreak by shipping the chickens to other locations. It consequently caused damage to other poultry farms in nearby areas, the prosecutors said.

Asada was arrested in March and indicted in April.

Asada’s father, Hajimu Asada, who served as chairman of the chicken farm company, was found hanged along with his wife in an apparent suicide in March, after the scandal broke.

The outbreak came to light after an anonymous caller alerted local authorities on Feb. 26 to the fact that many chickens were dying at the Kyoto farm. The Kyoto Prefectural Government inspected the farm the following day.

Asada initially told prefectural officials that he believed the chickens had been affected by enteritis.