• Kyodo

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The mayor of Handa, Aichi Prefecture, was arrested Monday for arranging a money-for-favors deal between his son’s construction firm and another building company, in which 2 million yen changed hands in connection with a city-run housing project, police alleged.

Yoshihiro Sakai

Mayor Yoshihiro Sakai, 61, is suspected of having Rinsui Mizuno, 70, managing director of the construction firm Yashima Kensetsu, pay 2 million yen to his 31-year-old son’s building firm in December 1999.

Mizuno and two others were also arrested Monday in connection with the case. Police searched Yashima Kensetsu’s offices in Handa as well as the mayor’s chambers on Monday.

In return for the cash, Yashima Kensetsu was allowed to bid for an upcoming city-funded housing project involving the construction of 32 eight-story dwellings, police said. In February 2000, the project contract was awarded to Yashima Kensetsu for 395 million yen.

Investigators allege that the bribe was given in the form of extra payments from Yashima Kensetsu to the son’s firm for road construction work. Police aim to to determine if money was handed over to Sakai.

Police said Sakai has denied receiving any bribes.

Deputy Mayor Izo Sakakibara told a news conference later in the day that it would be regrettable should the allegations prove to be true. The city held an emergency meeting of senior officials the same day to discuss how to deal with the situation.

In 1987, Sakai, then a Handa Municipal Assembly member, was elected to the Aichi Prefectural Assembly. He was elected mayor of Handa in April 1999.

Yashima Kensetsu Co., founded in 1973 and capitalized at 50 million yen, won a total of 850 million yen worth of municipal public works contracts between September 1999 and August, according to investigators.

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