JR Hokkaido may face criminal charge for falsifications

Kyodo

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated Wednesday the government may file a criminal complaint against executives and employees of Hokkaido Railway Co. over the carrier’s falsification of maintenance data.

“We will deal with the issue appropriately after examining the outcome of an investigation,” Suga told a press conference. The falsification “is . . . unforgivable. The transport ministry will deal severely with it.”

His comments came after JR Hokkaido said Tuesday it cannot deny the possibility that railway inspection data were falsified.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism started earlier this week a special investigation of JR Hokkaido, which has been hit by a series of scandals lately that point to sloppy maintenance work.

In Sapporo on Wednesday, JR Hokkaido chief Makoto Nojima told reporters, “I apologize for causing problems that have affected public trust in railway operations.”

He declined to step down, however, saying, “It is my duty to rebuild a safe railway by finding the cause of the problems.”

Nojima also said the railway will set up a panel of outside experts as part of its effort to compile preventive measures.