• Kyodo News


Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested Chiba Mayor Keiichi Tsuruoka Wednesday on suspicion of receiving about ¥1 million in cash from a general contractor looking to win city-ordered construction work.

Tsuruoka, 68, has denied taking a bribe, reportedly telling investigators, “I have neither received cash nor granted favors” for Azuma Kigyo, a construction firm in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, the MPD said.

Tsuruoka is suspected of providing favors to Azuma Kigyo in 2005 in a bid for a street construction project, sources said.

However, a city official under questioning said Tsuruoka had instructed that Azuma Kigyo be granted favors.

Azuma Kigyo, established in 1956, has about 80 workers. It won the construction bid for ¥42.7 million, the sources said, adding the statute of limitations for those offering bribes has already expired.

Tsuruoka won the mayoral race in June 2001 after serving as a senior bureaucrat at the then Home Affairs Ministry.

Tsuruoka, an independent with ruling bloc backing who is in his second term, has said he will not run in the June 14 mayoral race and will retire.

It is the first arrest of a mayor of a major city on a bribery charge since 1993, when several were collared.

Azuma Kigyo reportedly has a history of winning contracts with the city of Chiba, though the number has declined recently. It may have wanted to establish close ties with the mayor, the sources said.

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