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Kansai Electric Power Co. on Monday pledged to improve its corporate governance after the former deputy mayor of a town that hosts one of its nuclear plants was found to have bribed company executives for decades.

In a plan submitted to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Kepco said it will appoint a new chairman and set up panels consisting mostly of outside directors to oversee the nomination, remuneration and audits of its executives.

The Osaka-based utility said Sadayuki Sakakibara, a former head of Keidanren (the Japan Business Federation) will take the job once the decision is approved at an extraordinary shareholders meeting in July. Makoto Yagi vacated the post last October to take responsibility for the scandal.

Kepco has been under fire since it came to light that Eiji Moriyama, a former deputy mayor of the town of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, had been bribing executives to favor a construction company that was linked to him.

A third-party investigation found that, over the course of more than three decades beginning in 1987, Moriyama had handed out about ¥360 million ($3.4 million) in cash and gifts including clothing vouchers and sumo tickets to 75 people.

The executives said they could not reject the bribes for fear of retribution against their companies and themselves. Moriyama, who died in March 2019, held strong sway over the local community and was instrumental in quelling opposition to the addition of two reactors to the Takahama nuclear power plant.

METI ordered Kansai Electric on March 16 to draw up a plan to improve its corporate governance by the end of the month and to report on its progress by the end of June.

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