Four major Japanese contractors under investigation for antitrust violations related to construction of the Tokyo-Osaka maglev train link are also suspected of deciding which firm would win five other projects in future bidding, a source close to the matter said Wednesday.
Tokyo prosecutors and the Japan Fair Trade Commission are investigating Kajima Corp., Obayashi Corp., Shimizu Corp. and Taisei Corp. for alleged conspiracy in winning bids for 15 projects related to the ¥9 trillion ($80 billion) maglev train project.
The investigators suspect that the four companies were also conspiring to decide the bidder and the bidding price for five tunnel projects on the maglev train line in planned tenders, the source said.
According to Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai), joint ventures led by the four companies have won contracts for 15 out of the 22 construction tenders put out, each securing three to four contracts.
Earlier this month, prosecutors raided the head offices of the four contractors, and Obayashi has admitted to the Japan Fair Trade Commission that it was involved in bid obstruction together with the three others.
When the project is complete, JR Tokai will operate the world’s first train to use superconducting magnetic levitation technology. It will travel at a top speed of 500 kph and connect Tokyo and Osaka in about an hour, much quicker than current bullet trains.
JR Tokai aims to start the new high-speed train services between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027, and extend the line to Osaka by 2037. The government has provided a total of ¥3 trillion to JR Tokai for the project.