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The Supreme Court has turned down an appeal by former Construction Minister Kishiro Nakamura against an 18-month prison term for bribery, a decision that will remove him from his seat in the House of Representatives.

Nakamura, a one-time prominent member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, will become the third member of the Diet in postwar history to lose a parliamentary seat after having a prison term that is not suspended finalized against him, according to the Diet secretariat.

Nakamura has been convicted of taking 10 million yen in bribes from an executive of major general contractor Kajima Corp. in 1992.

The October 1997 ruling by the Tokyo District Court found him guilty of taking the bribe, and the Tokyo High Court upheld the ruling in April 2001.

He has also been fined 10 million yen.

The top court decision will become final following formal procedures to accept complaints from Nakamura, possibly by the end of the month. He is then expected to be imprisoned and be stripped of his status as a Diet member based on the Public Offices Election Law.

He will be barred from running in public elections until he completes the jail term.

According to the high court ruling, Nakamura, 53, received 10 million yen from then Kajima vice president Shinji Kiyoyama on Jan. 13, 1992, as a reward for agreeing to pressure the Fair Trade Commission not to file a criminal complaint of bid-rigging against a group of contractors, including Kajima.

The top court has also rejected Kiyoyama’s appeal against a high court ruling that gave him 18 months, suspended for four years.

In May 1991, the FTC inspected member companies of a construction business cartel known as the Saitama Doyo-kai (Saitama Saturday Club) over alleged bid-rigging.

The cartel, now disbanded, comprised 66 contractors based in Saitama Prefecture.

Nakamura pleaded not guilty to bribery, saying the 10 million yen that he accepted from Kajima was a routine political donation, although the money had not been reported as such to relevant authorities.

He also argued that the FTC had already decided not to file the complaint against the contractors at the time the prosecutors said he pressured the fair trade watchdog.

Presiding justice Hiroshi Fukuda of the Supreme Court dismissed such arguments, saying that Nakamura’s act of pressuring the FTC to drop a case under investigation “was an attempt to distort the exercise of power by having an unfair influence on (the FTC’s) judgment.”

The case involving Nakamura was one of a series of widespread bribery scandals involving the construction industry and politicians over public works orders, which led to the arrest of governors of Ibaraki and Miyagi prefectures. Investigation into those cases were triggered by documents seized by prosecutors in the raid on tax evasion by the late LDP linchpin Shin Kanemaru, who was leader of a faction to which Nakamura belonged.

Nakamura has quit the LDP but refused to resign as a Lower House member even after he was found guilty by the Tokyo District Court in 1997.

In the last general election in June 2000, he was re-elected as an independent for his ninth Lower House term from the Ibaraki No. 7 constituency. He called for voter support by saying he would definitely win acquittal and return to the LDP.

LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki avoided directly commenting on the Supreme Court decision on Nakamura.

“We humbly accept the judicial decision from a viewpoint of the separation of the three powers (of the government administration, the legislature and the judiciary), and we will keep watching the ongoing process from now,” he said in a brief written statement.

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