• Kyodo

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Police on Friday arrested Tadahiro Ando, who resigned as Miyazaki governor earlier in the week after a no-confidence motion, for allegedly collaborating with other officials in rigging bids for public works projects.

Miyazaki became the third prefecture in just over a month to have its governor arrested for alleged involvement in bid-rigging.

The Miyazaki Prefectural Police served the arrest warrant on Ando after they had brought him in for questioning on a voluntary basis.

The police believe that Ando, 65, gave instructions to prefectural government officials to intervene in the bidding process in 2005 and again this year to get contracts awarded to Yamato Engineering Inc. The Tokyo-based architectural firm won several contracts worth a combined 21 million yen.

Fifteen other people, including the Miyazaki Prefectural Government’s chief treasurer, Takashi Eto, 63, and Yamato Engineering President Yoshifumi Nihongi, 56, were arrested between Nov. 16 and Thursday in connection with the case.

Police allege that after Nihongi backed Ando’s successful campaign in the 2003 gubernatorial election, he asked for some public works projects.

Ando asked Eto and other subordinates several times to make arrangements for Yamato Engineering to win some contracts.

Ando has repeatedly denied the allegations but once said some of his predecessors used to intervene in bidding for public work projects.

Ando said at the news conference to announce his resignation that he was leaving office reluctantly. He said he was stepping down to avoid any disruptions in the prefectural government and would work to prove his innocence.

According to a citizens’ group that monitors local governments, contractors that won public works projects auctioned by the Miyazaki Prefecture in 2005 did so with bids that came as close as 95.8 percent on average to the estimate set internally by the government. That rate was highest of all the prefectures.

In the bidding process for public works projects, any bid higher than the estimate is immediately rejected. Therefore, as the estimate is a secret, any figure that comes close to it can be an indication the firm knew the government’s figure.

At the governor’s official residence in the city of Miyazaki, where Ando still lives, about 100 reporters gathered in the morning. Police escorted him from the house at 2:45 p.m. for voluntary questioning at a police station.

Ando resigned Monday after the Miyazaki Prefectural Assembly passed a no-confidence vote over the bid-rigging allegations. An election for his replacement will be held Jan. 21.

Asked about the police obtaining an arrest warrant for Ando, Vice Gov. Kayoko Saka refused to comment, saying she did not know the details of the investigation.

The governors of Wakayama and Fukushima have also been arrested recently over allegations they were involved in rigging bids for public projects.

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