In September, media reported that 20 executives of Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kepco) had, for a decade or so, received almost ¥320 million worth of cash and gifts from Eiji Moriyama, the former deputy mayor of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, who died in March at the age of 90. The compensation was presumably paid in gratitude for Kepco contracts with a construction company close to Moriyama that had done work for Kepco’s Takahama nuclear power plant. The story caused a sensation and there has since been a steady drip of reports compounding Kepco’s complicity in the matter, but the only significant repercussion so far has been the resignation of Kepco’s chairman. No charges have been filed.
If the scandal doesn’t change the way business is carried out between Kepco and its partners, it’s because it’s been carried out that way for so long that no one expects it to. Although the story got out, as is often the case with these types of scandals, the vernacular press seems to have missed the signs until the story was actually handed to them in a form they couldn’t ignore — in this case a letter sent by a whistleblower. On Oct. 15, the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association cited Kyodo News for breaking the story on Sept. 26, though apparently, most major news outlets received a copy of the same letter at the same time.