National

Kepco execs got ¥320 million from ex-deputy mayor of town hosting nuclear plant

Kyodo

Kansai Electric Power Co. admitted Friday that 20 people, including its top executives, received a total of ¥320 million in money and goods from an official of a Fukui Prefecture town that hosts one of the company’s nuclear power plants.

The payouts came over a seven-year period from 2011, the company said.

Kepco President Shigeki Iwane, 66, said those involved tried to return what they received but were not immediately able to do so because the former deputy mayor of Takahama refused.

“We deeply apologize to those involved and the public for causing worries and inconveniences,” Iwane said at a hastily arranged news conference in Osaka.

Iwane, who admitted to receiving goods himself, and Chairman Makoto Yagi, 69, had their pay cut over the matter and others were disciplined. However, Iwane refused to go into further detail about the other officials, saying only that they returned what they deemed as excessive.

“I would like to fully exercise my leadership so there will be no recurrence,” said Iwane, adding that he hopes to restore public trust in the utility together with Yagi.

Investigations by tax authorities found that the former deputy mayor, Eiji Moriyama — who died at age 90 in March this year — received a ¥300 million commission from a local construction company that was hired for projects at the Takahama nuclear complex, sources said.

Moriyama told the tax authorities before he died that he provided the money to Kepco officials as a token of his appreciation for supporting the town, which has relied heavily on the nuclear plant economically, the sources said.

Moriyama served as deputy mayor from 1977 to 1987. Even after retiring from the municipal government, he was known to have close ties with the utility firm.

Yagi said Thursday that Moriyama was an influential figure in the town and supportive of nuclear power.

The money in question was sent to the Kepco officials’ personal bank accounts or delivered directly to the company, the sources said, adding that some cash was brought to one of the officials in a bag containing confectionery.

The construction company in Takahama received at least ¥2.5 billion worth of work as part of the plant project between 2015 and 2018, related documents showed.

As early as the 1960s, Takahama had become desolate due to an exodus of young workers, as the town along the Sea of Japan had few job opportunities. While struggling to draw businesses to the area, the town decided to host a nuclear plant to create a new source of revenue.

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