Tokyo prosecutors Tuesday arrested three men, including a former executive of Japan Hica Co., affiliated with Japan Highway Public Corp., on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust in connection with about 5 billion yen in losses the company suffered, officials said.

The three arrested by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office are Takeshi Matsumura, 64, a former executive director of Japan Hica; Katsuhiko Kawabata, 36, an employee at the firm’s Senba branch in Osaka; and Hiroshi Nakamichi, 65, a former travel agency representative.

Japan Hica is a Tokyo-based company that produces the majority of prepaid toll cards for use on Japan Highway Public Corp.’s expressways.

According to investigators, Matsumura and the other suspects delivered about 196,000 prepaid “highway cards” from Japan Hica to Kamamoto Sports Kikaku Co., a company headed by the wife of Kunishige Kamamoto, a member of the Upper House, between Aug. 1 and Sept. 6, 1995, without realistic expectations of being paid for the cards.

As a result, the three people allegedly caused approximately 5.43 billion yen in losses to Japan Hica, investigators said.

In August, Japan Hica filed a suit with the Osaka District Court in August seeking an injunction that Kamamoto Sports pay 2.7 billion yen to Japan Hica for the cards.

Japan Hica, established in 1989, virtually monopolizes production of highway cards, which are used to pay tolls on expressways run by the Japan Highway Public Corp. Its sales for 1997 were about 480 billion yen. Most of the company’s directors are retired executives of the Japan Highway, sources said.

Kamamoto Sports Kikaku was founded in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, in 1985, primarily for holding soccer classes and lectures based on the experiences of Kamamoto, who was a striker in Japanese soccer. Headquartered in Osaka’s Kita Ward, the firm has about 10 employees.

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