The chairman of the Saga Prefectural Assembly’s nuclear safety committee resigned Wednesday over donations from Kyushu Electric Power Co. officials, a charge that came to light last month after news broke of the utility’s public relations scandal.
On Aug. 23, when the special committee on nuclear safety summoned Kyushu Electric officials as unsworn witnesses, Hobun Kihara offered his resignation and walked out at the start of the session, admitting that his political body received a total of ¥50,000 from six Kyushu Electric officials, including an executive in 2009.
The committee, set up in May in the wake of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, was deliberating the scandal in which Kyushu Electric tried to fake public support for restarting reactors at its Genkai plant in Saga amid a delay due to heightened safety concerns.
At Wednesday’s session, the panel accepted Kihara’s letter of resignation, submitted Aug. 30, and chose as his replacement Hiroshi Ishimaru, local head of the Liberal Democratic Party, which is the largest party in the assembly. Ishimaru’s political funding reports for 2007 to 2009 show no donations from Kyushu Electric executives.