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Yoshishiro Kimura, a former mayor of Ishioka, Ibaraki Prefecture, was sentenced Friday to a suspended prison term for taking 2 million yen in bribes in 1999 while he was still in office.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced Kimura, 61, to 2 1/2 years, suspended for five years, and fined him 2 million yen for aggravated bribery.

Kimura was convicted of receiving the bribe from Mitsuro Ozaki, 56, who was an executive of Tokyo-based consulting firm Gyosai Toshi Kaihatsu Kenkyujo, in July 1999 in return for providing a target price for a public works contract to design electrical equipment for a water-purification plant in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Ozaki relayed the information to Hitachi Ltd. and one of its affiliates, which won the bid.

Presiding Judge Shoji Ogawa said Kimura “undermined people’s trust in public works projects by cooperating with Gyosaiken in hopes that it would help stabilize his political footing.”

But the court decided to suspend the prison term because Kimura did not ask for the bribe, Ogawa said.

Prosecutors had demanded a prison term of 2 1/2 years and a fine of 2 million yen. Kimura pleaded guilty and apologized in the course of the trial.

In a separate trial, Ozaki has pleaded guilty to charges of bribing Kimura, former Tokushima Gov. Toshio Endo, and Hiroshi Yamanaka, former mayor of Shimotsuma, Ibaraki Prefecture, over public works projects.

Endo, Kimura and Yamanaka have all resigned over their involvement in the bribery scandals. Endo has been tried and given a suspended three-year prison term, while Yamanaka is still on trial.

Fifteen people have been indicted for bribery and tax-evasion charges linked to Ozaki’s consulting firm.

Ozaki is a former secretary to House of Representatives member Michihiko Kano, who left the Democratic Party of Japan in February 2002 after Ozaki’s involvement in bribery was reported.

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