• SHARE

Shizuka Kamei, policy chief of the Liberal Democratic Party, and Kazuo Torashima, newly appointed Defense Agency chief, are among the recipients of political donations from Wakachiku Construction Co., it was learned Friday.

Wakachiku allegedly bribed former Construction Minister Eiichi Nakao to win favors in bidding for public works.

Publicly disclosed reports of donations accepted by lawmakers’ fundraising bodies also show that former Construction Ministers Katsutsugu Sekiya and Takami Eto as well as former Transport Ministers Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, Toshihiro Nikai and Yoshiyuki Kamei have also received donations from Wakachiku.

Other former and incumbent Diet members who were found to have accepted funds from Wakachiku are Liberal Party chief Ichiro Ozawa, former Trade Minister Sadanori Yamanaka, former Education Minister Takeo Nishioka, former Defense Agency chief Kazuo Aichi and Masami Tanabu, a former farm minister.

The Tokyo-based construction firm, listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, allegedly gave 30 million yen in 1996 to Nakao in return for the firm’s inclusion on the list of ministry-designated bidders for public works. Nakao was arrested June 30.

Wakachiku donated 120,000 yen each year between 1996 and 1998 to Kamei, who was Nakao’s successor as construction minister.

“We cannot predict which company will cause trouble in the future,” Kamei’s office said in a statement.

Some media reports have alleged Kamei’s personal ties with Heo Young Joong, a former real estate developer who is now on trial in the Itoman case. Heo is believed to have provided Wakachiku’s parent company with 1 billion yen to be used to curry favor with lawmakers.

But Kamei earlier this week dismissed such allegations as “based on malicious speculation and guesswork.”

A fundraising body of Torashima received 360,000 yen in 1996 and 500,000 yen in 1997 from Wakachiku.

In a news conference upon his appointment as Defense Agency chief earlier this week, Torashima said he had never met anybody involved in the bribery case.

A secretary for Torashima said that Wakachiku’s local office in Nagasaki — Torashima’s hometown constituency — has been part of his support organization since he served as a Nagasaki prefectural assemblyman. “(Torashima) does not know the former chairman of Wakachiku who is alleged to have bribed (Nakao),” the secretary added.

A public relations official of Wakachiku said the firm gave the donations to these lawmakers because of long-standing ties with them, admitting that most of the donations have been given to politicians with ties to the construction and transport ministries.