National / Politics

Takahama mayor linked to Kepco bribery scandal re-elected

Kyodo

Yutaka Nose secured his fourth term as mayor of Takahama in Fukui Prefecture on Sunday, even though his town and he himself have been embroiled in a bribery scandal involving Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kepco) and a former deputy mayor.

Nose, 59, who was first elected mayor in 2008 following time spent as a town assembly member, beat fellow independent and former prefectural assemblyman Akihiro Ichise, 62.

A key focus of the election was restoration of the town’s administration following the scandal, which came to light last September. The late former deputy mayor Eiji Moriyama was found to have bribed executives and employees of Kepco to ensure companies connected to him received contracts for construction and other work at the Takahama nuclear plant.

As both Nose and Ichise are supportive of Takahama coexisting with the plant, restarting its Nos. 1 and 2 reactors — both of which are over 40 years old — was not a point of contention during the election campaign.

Nose touted his 12-year experience as mayor during the campaign, while Ichise expressed his intention to enhance support for the elderly as well as those raising children.

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

Nose and other Takahama town officials were also found to have exchanged midyear gifts with Moriyama.

The top three executives of Kepco have stepped down to take responsibility for the scandal.

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