Nishimatsu official gets suspended prison term

Kyodo News

A former Nishimatsu Construction Co. official was given a suspended sentence Tuesday for involvement in illicit business practices that led to the indictments of the company’s former head and an aide of Democratic Party of Japan heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced Kazuhiko Takahara, 64, to 18 months in prison, suspended for four years, for helping generate and control illicit overseas funds in violation of the foreign-exchange and foreign trade law as well as for embezzling company money.

The former deputy head of the company’s overseas business department brought ¥70 million into Japan between February 2006 and August 2007 in conspiracy with former Nishimatsu President Mikio Kunisawa and others without reporting it to customs authorities, the court said.

Takahara also pocketed ¥45 million in slush funds between November 2005 and August 2007 to buy a condominium, it said.

Prosecutors had sought an 18-month prison term for Takahara, while he asked for a suspended term.

Some of the illicit funds at Nishimatsu are believed to have been used for political donations.