National

109 Fukui officials received money in Kansai Electric gift scandal

Kyodo

A total of 109 current and former Fukui prefectural officials received money and other gifts, some worth up to ¥200,000, from a former Takahama deputy mayor who is at the heart of a gift scandal involving Kansai Electric Power Co., an investigative committee said Thursday.

The committee set up by the prefecture last month had been looking into whether Eiji Moriyama exercised influence over the prefecture’s public works projects, after the late deputy mayor was found to have given massive gifts to executives of the utility.

The scandal involving Kansai Electric, the nation’s second-largest utility firm, has drawn attention to the collusive ties between the country’s nuclear industry and government officials.

The revelation that the utility officials received a total of ¥320 million ($3 million) worth of gifts from 2006 led to the resignation of its Chairman Makoto Yagi. Kansai Electric operates a nuclear plant in Takahama and Moriyama, who died in March at the age of 90, served as an adviser to its subsidiary for more than 30 years.

The three committee members, all lawyers, interviewed about 300 people including former governors, deputy governors and other senior officials in compiling their report.

The panel, set up by the prefecture last month, determined that 21 of the 109 officials received gifts that were “beyond basic courtesy,” with two of them receiving cash or gifts worth about ¥200,000. Items valued at about ¥100,000 were given to three others.

One official was reprimanded, but no disciplinary action was taken against the 20 others since they have already retired.

However, the committee said it did not find evidence that those who received the gifts accommodated Moriyama and so it could not say he exercised influence over the prefecture’s public works projects.

According to the report, most of the 109 officials said they had offered gifts of comparable value in return.

Moriyama served as deputy mayor of Takahama from 1977 to 1987 and also as a human rights researcher for the prefecture between 1971 and 2018.