Building pilings scandal widens; piling worker ‘apologizes’ to mother

Kyodo

Asahi Kasei Construction Materials Corp., beset by a faked construction-records scandal, says a worker who fabricated data for pilings beneath a tilting condominium in Yokohama manipulated figures for at least eight other facilities nationwide.

The facilities include a business hotel in Aichi Prefecture, a public housing project in Saitama Prefecture, an elderly care home in Ishikawa Prefecture and a city-owned facility in Nagano city. Piling data for two facilities in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward and two facilities — a warehouse and a reservoir — in Hokkaido were also fabricated.

Sanco Fudosan K.K., based in Tsu, Mie Prefecture, said Tuesday it had identified faked records relating to the construction of a hotel, Sanco Inn Toyota, in the city of Toyota.

Informed by Asahi Kasei Construction Materials Corp. that the male worker who fabricated data for the Yokohama condo also oversaw the work at the hotel, the firm examined the building’s construction data and found that data for one of 26 piles had been manipulated.

Also on Wednesday, the Saitama Prefectural Government announced the fabrication of piling records for nine of 32 piles at a prefectural housing complex in the city of Saitama.

And Shojuen, a care home for the elderly in Komatsu, Ishikawa, revealed that it was informed by the land ministry on Monday that the male worker was involved in manipulating piling data during its construction.

Nagano City said piling data for a facility it owns was also fabricated.

However, all four buildings are said to have no safety issues: Sanco Inn Toyota and Shojuen confirmed that they will remain in operation.

Asahi Kasei Construction Materials revealed last month that the worker in charge of piling work at the condominium in Yokohama — an individual on loan from a subcontractor — handled 41 projects in nine prefectures over 10 years. Nineteen of them had falsified piling records.

An expert panel under the land ministry met Wednesday for the first time. It plans to come up with an interim report by the end of the year on ways to prevent any repeat of the scandal.

It is also expected to discuss whether a probe should be widened to include construction companies other than Asahi Kasei Construction Materials.

Meanwhile, the mother of the worker whose actions triggered the scandal told Kyodo News on Tuesday he emailed her an apology at about the time the scandal blew up.

“I might make the news. Sorry for causing such trouble,” the message said. The mother said she received it in late October, right after the scandal involving the tilting condominium erupted.

She said her son, who is in his 40s and lives in Tokyo, was born on the outskirts of Nagoya and initially followed in his father’s footsteps in joining a piling company in Aichi. He later left the firm for the Asahi Kasei group.

She said he has recently been sending money home every month. She and her husband, who live in Aichi Prefecture, are pensioners.

In her reply to the email, the woman advised her son to be clear about what he did and what he did not do.

The condominium is tilting because eight piles supporting it are too short and are thought not to be secured in solid ground. The man is believed to have falsified records of the work, including how much cement was poured in at three of the complex’s four buildings.

She said the last time she heard from her son was an email informing her of a cash transfer for November.

“He must have been worried about his parents even though he is in a tough situation himself,” the woman said. “Now I am really worried, as I don’t know how he is dealing with the situation. I want to believe he is not a person who would fabricate data for his own gain.”