The alleged bribe paid in 1996 to Yojiro Nakajima, then parliamentary vice minister of the Defense Agency, from Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. does not seem to have resulted in favorable treatment for the defense contractor, Defense Agency chief Hosei Norota claimed Friday.
“We do not know what they talked about in the vice minister’s office,” which is where a former senior managing director of the firm allegedly gave 5 million yen to Nakajima. “But objectively speaking, there are no signs that show Fuji Heavy has received any favorable treatment due to the former vice minister,” Norota said.
The defense chief said Fuji Heavy’s share in production of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s US-1A rescue aircraft has remained at 19 percent to date since six aircraft manufacturers, including Fuji Heavy, started producing the plane nearly three decades ago.
Prosecutors allege that the firm bribed Nakajima in October 1996 to help get it selected as a contractor for the US-1A’s successor, which the Defense Agency plans to introduce in fiscal 2004.
On Friday, agency officials explained that the agency had already picked four firms, including Fuji Heavy, as the contractors for the project in April 1996.
The agency will not conduct an in-house investigation into the alleged bribe, as they did for the coverup earlier this year of the overcharging involving the agency’s procurement office, Norota said.
“Conducting our own probe might disrupt the ongoing investigation by prosecutors,” Norota reckoned. “We will instead fully cooperate with the prosecutors’ investigation. This time, no coverup will be seen.”
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