The Tokyo District Court on Thursday sentenced a former Japan Highway Public Corp. executive to a suspended 2 1/2-year prison term for accepting about 7.2 million yen in bribes in the form of wining and dining.

Takehiko Isaka, 55, who was a board director in charge of accounting at the semigovernmental corporation, was found guilty of giving special favors to seven leading financial institutions that entertained him on 113 occasions between 1994 and 1997.

Besides the sentence, which was suspended for three years, the court also fined Isaka 6.84 million yen and confiscated 21 items he received as gifts from the firms, including an electronic dictionary.

The court said Isaka received bribes in the form of wining and dining, golf outings and expensive gifts from Nomura Securities Co., Nikko Securities Co., Daiwa Securities Co., Fuji Bank, Sakura Bank, Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan and Industrial Bank of Japan.

Isaka, a former chief of the Finance Ministry’s Mint Bureau, had admitted during his first trial hearing in June that he had been wined and dined, but denied granting favors to the financial institutions.

His lawyers asked for a suspended sentence, claiming the entertainment he received was an expression of social etiquette and personal relations. Prosecutors demanded a three-year prison term and 6.84 million yen fine.

Presiding Judge Kohei Ikeda said the wining and dining was frequent and excessive and started after he was inaugurated as the highway corporation’s board director. It was “clearly beyond the bounds of conventional practice,” the judge said.

The court said Isaka gave preferential treatment to the companies, which were vying to become the lead underwriter for the highway corporation’s overseas bond issues.

Because Isaka had the authority to designate the lead underwriter, financial firms wined and dined him to gain preferential treatment such as obtaining information on bidding conditions, the court said.

The highway corporation, which is under the Construction Ministry’s jurisdiction, operates a vast network of expressways across Japan.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.