The mayor of a town in Kyushu that hosts a nuclear power plant admitted Wednesday to receiving ¥1 million in cash from a construction company in 2018, in possible violation of a political funds law.
Shintaro Wakiyama, the mayor of Genkai in Saga Prefecture, did not report the money in question to authorities, as is required under the political funds law, but has said that he did not touch it before returning it recently to Shiohama Industry. He said that he had not performed any favors for the company.
The company is known to have had close ties with a man at the heart of last year’s gift scandal involving Kansai Electric Power Co.
During a hastily arranged news conference Thursday, Wakiyama said he would make a decision on whether to step down after consulting with his supporters. “I have caused lots of trouble” to parties involved, he said.
Wakiyama told Kyodo News that the money was received days after he was elected, in July 2018, from a then-executive of Shiohama Industry Corp.
The company, based in Fukui Prefecture, allegedly approached Wakiyama long before he was elected and conveyed its wish to win business related to Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s nuclear plant in Genkai, sources familiar with the matter said.
Shiohama Industry, which was founded in 1955, has been engaged in a number of construction projects related to nuclear power plants across the country. It was not immediately known whether the firm received any construction orders related to the Genkai power plant.
The construction firm is known to have once hired as an adviser Eiji Moriyama, the late former deputy mayor of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, who provided gifts over several decades to officials of Kansai Electric, operator of a nuclear power plant in the town.
Moriyama was believed to have exerted great influence over Takahama’s decisions on policy matters related to nuclear power plants, and Kansai Electric executives are said to have continued accepting the gifts from Moriyama in order to maintain good relations with him.
Moriyama, who died in March last year at the age of 90, provided gifts worth ¥320 million in total to 20 executives of Kansai Electric from 2011 through 2018.
The revelation developed into a huge scandal, forcing Kansai Electric Chairman Makoto Yagi and President Shigeki Motegi to step down in October.
Wakiyama reportedly returned the money he had received to Shiohama Industry after the name of the firm emerged in media reports related to the Kansai Electric scandal.
The sources said Shiohama helped Wakiyama’s election campaign, and handed over an envelope containing the cash at his home on July 31, 2018.
“I did not know Shiohama Industry was helping me out with the election,” said Wakiyama, adding that he had met with members of the company for the first time when they took the cash to him.
He said he would hold a news conference over the matter later in the day.
Shiohama Industry said the former executive alleged to have been involved was now deceased and that it did not know the money was given to Wakiyama.