The Tokyo District Court on Monday found two men guilty of rigging bids for construction work on the Tokyo-Osaka maglev train project involving four major contractors.

The court handed down an 18-month prison term, suspended for three years, to both Ichiro Osawa, a 63-year-old former civil engineering sales division manager of Kajima Corp., and Takashi Okawa, a 70-year-old former managing director of Taisei Corp.

The court also fined Kajima and Taisei ¥250 million each.

The defense lawyers had argued during the trial that the pair's actions did not constitute a crime because Central Japan Railway Co., which ordered the project, had handpicked a contractor before the bidding started and therefore no competition existed in the first place.

Prosecutors had sought two-year prison terms for both men and fines of ¥300 million each for the firms.

According to the indictment, Osawa and Okawa met with former executives of Obayashi Corp. and Shimizu Corp. between 2014 and 2015 and agreed to decide on the winners of the Shinagawa and Nagoya station contracts in advance, exchanging information related to the bidding prices.

Obayashi and Shimizu voluntarily reported to the Japan Fair Trade Commission on their actions based on the leniency system, and prosecutors indicted only the firms.

In October 2018, the district court ruled there were collusive ties between the four major contractors, ordering Obayashi and Shimizu to pay fines of ¥200 million and ¥180 million respectively, for violating the antimonopoly law.