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A former mayor of Ishioka, Ibaraki Prefecture, pleaded guilty Monday to receiving 2 million yen in bribes in 1999 for unlawfully helping Hitachi Ltd. win the contract for a municipal waterworks project.

In his first trial session before the Tokyo District Court, Yoshishiro Kimura, 60, admitted leaking information regarding tenders to supply electrical equipment for the city’s water purification plant to Hitachi Ltd. via the Tokyo-based consulting firm Gyosai Toshi Kaihatsu Kenkyujo (Gyosaiken).

Kimura, who was mayor at the time, told the court that in return, he accepted 2 million yen in July 1999 from Gyosaiken, which later accepted 5 million yen from a Hitachi subsidiary.

Hitachi won the tender for 883 million yen, only 3 million yen short of the target price, prosecutors told the court.

In the same trial, an official of Hitachi Ltd. and two executives of local companies in Ibaraki Prefecture also admitted to conspiring with Kimura in obstructing the bidding process.

Three officials of Hitachi Plant Engineering and Construction Co., a Hitachi subsidiary, admitted providing bribes to Kimura via Gyosaiken.

The charges against Kimura stem from an extensive bribery scandal involving the consulting firm, which was effectively run by Mitsuo Ozaki, 56, a former secretary to House of Representatives member Michihiko Kano.

Former Tokushima Gov. Toshio Endo stands accused of taking 8 million yen in bribes from Gyosaiken in 1997 and 2000 for leaking the city’s target bid price for public works projects to a local construction firm through Gyosaiken.

Hiroshi Yamanaka, former mayor of Shimotsuma, Ibaraki Prefecture, has also been charged with receiving 8.35 million yen from Gyosaiken in 1999 for leaking similar information to the consultancy, which delivered the information to a Tokyo-based construction firm.

Ozaki has been charged with obstructing bidding by cooperating with these politicians. His trial before the same court starts July 31.

Kano, a former vice president of the Democratic Party of Japan, quit the DPJ in February to take moral responsibility for the scandal involving Ozaki. Kano is now an independent Diet member.

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