Ex-Sendai mayor gets three years for bribes

Former Sendai Mayor Toru Ishii was given three years in prison Jan. 22 and fined 140 million yen for bribes of that amount he received from seven major domestic construction companies.Ishii was convicted by the Tokyo District Court of taking 140 million yen in bribes in 1992 from the seven contractors in connection with Sendai public works projects. The 71-year-old was arrested in June 1993 and, while still in office at the time, was later charged with taking 100 million yen in bribes from Hazama Corp., Shimizu Corp., Mitsui Construction Co., and Nishimatsu Construction Co. He was also charged with accepting 20 million yen from Taisei Corp. and 10 million yen each from Obayashi Corp. and Kajima Corp. Ishii denied through the trial that he took any bribes and claimed the money was for his election campaign, saying it did not influence his decisions in awarding public works projects contracts. Prosecutors had asked for four years in prison and a fine of 140 million yen for the ex-mayor.”The amount of bribes was unprecedented, and he (Ishii) tried to hide them,” said presiding Judge Atsushi Semba. “There is no choice but to get tough to prevent a repeat” of such public service corruption.Ishii was the only defendant among 12 to be sentenced with a prison term in connection with the recent scandals involving top construction companies. Others received suspended sentences.