National

Kepco 'donated' at least ¥4.3 billion to nuclear plant host town Takahama since 1970s: sources

Kyodo

A town in Fukui Prefecture hosting a Kansai Electric Power Co. nuclear power plant received at least ¥4.3 billion in “donations” since around 1970 from the company, currently at the heart of a gift scandal involving its late deputy mayor, sources familiar with the matter said Saturday.

More than 60 percent of the donations were given to Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, just prior to two nuclear reactors starting operations in the early 1980s, according to the sources and the town’s financial statements.

However, Takahama municipal officials said they do not know how contributions were spent and that anonymous donors provided some of them, the sources said.

Underscoring the lack of transparency, municipal governments are not legally bound to report to the central government nor to the donors how donations from electric power companies were used.

A Kansai Electric official said the company cannot speak about specific contributions “out of consideration for relations with recipients” and said it reports such donations in its securities reports as miscellaneous expenditures.

According to Takahama’s financial records, the town has received a total of ¥3.48 billion in 10 payments since fiscal 1970 from Kansai Electric and affiliated companies.

In addition, there were four anonymous donations in the 1970s totaling around ¥860 million, which sources said were from Kansai Electric.

In fiscal 1980, the utility donated ¥1.02 billion to Takahama just as construction for the nuclear reactors Nos. 3 and 4 started. It also donated a sum of ¥1.7 billion over the years until fiscal 1985 when the reactors started operating.

The town has recorded the money as “donations for business related to regional promotion” or “donations for soil reclamation” on its books, but an official at the general affairs office said that there is no actual record of precisely what the money was used for.

Takahama received ¥2.4 billion in subsidies in fiscal 2019 from the central government as the host of a nuclear power plant.

The town has been at the heart of the money scandal after late Deputy Mayor Eiji Moriyama was found to have given massive gifts to Kansai Electric executives.

Kansai Electric Chairman Makoto Yagi and four other executives stepped down in October to take responsibility for the scandal.

Fukui Prefecture’s committee investigating the matter said Thursday it found that 109 current and former Fukui prefectural officials received money and other gifts from Moriyama in an apparent attempt to strengthen his influence in the local government.