Former Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. Chairman Isamu Kawai and another former executive of the company pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to bribing a former lawmaker to help the firm win a contract for a Maritime Self-Defense Force seaplane.
Their denial conflicts with an admission by former Parliamentary Vice Defense Minister Yojiro Nakajima of receiving the money.
Kawai, 76, and former Fuji Heavy Industries Managing Director Yasuyuki Kogure, 64, denied the charges in their first trial hearing before the Tokyo District Court. Kawai and Kogure stand accused of conspiring to pay a 5 million yen bribe to Nakajima, a former Lower House member, in 1996 when Nakajima was parliamentary vice minister of defense.
At his second trial hearing in January, Nakajima pleaded guilty to receiving bribes from Fuji Heavy officials. He gave up his Diet seat Jan. 12 after announcing his intention to resign during his first trial hearing. He is now free on bail while his trial continues. “I am innocent,” Kawai told the courtroom. “I have never ordered nor provided cash to Kogure for any wrongdoing.”
Kogure claimed police investigators pressured him into earlier confessing his guilt.
According to the indictment, Kogure and Kawai asked Nakajima on several occasions between January and August 1996 to use his position or influence to help Fuji Heavy win a flying boat contract from the Defense Agency, which was considering developing a next-generation version of the US-1A rescue plane.