• Kyodo

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The mayor of Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, who was arrested Thursday on suspicion of taking ¥1 million in bribes, ordered the city to expand a public cemetery project that is at the center of the scandal, it was learned Friday.

Mayor Yoshihide Sakaue allegedly received the money around April 2006 from Eitaro Nishioka, head of the management consulting firm Kobeshi Wangan Kaihatsu, in return for getting a company involved in the project to build the cemetery, sources said.

After receiving the money, the mayor ordered the city to consider expanding the land for the 214,000-sq.-meter Takarazuka Violet Cemetery.

Sakaue told city officials in May 2006 that the city “can lower costs” if it expanded the project area and involve nearby municipalities in the project.

At that time, Nishioka, 66, owned portions of land near the cemetery under construction. Police suspect Nishioka, who was also arrested on suspicion of giving the bribe, may have tried to raise profits through the project’s expansion.

Former local city assembly member Hitoshi Inoue was also arrested Thursday for allegedly handing the bribe to Sakaue.

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