• Jiji


The special investigation squad of the Osaka District Public Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday that it has decided not to indict nine former executives of Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kepco) over gift and pay scandals.

The nine include Shosuke Mori, 81, and Makoto Yagi, 72, both former chairmen of the regional power utility that mostly serves the Kinki region in western Japan.

The prosecutors launched a probe after a civic group filed special breach-of-trust complaints in late 2019 and in summer 2020, in the wake of revelations executives of the company had received money and goods from a key official of a nuclear power plant-hosting municipality and that retired executives had been paid secret compensation.

Kepco’s third-party inquiry panel confirmed last year that 75 officials received cash and goods worth some ¥360 million in total from the late former deputy mayor of the town of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, which hosts a nuclear power plant operated by the company.

The panel concluded that the former deputy mayor offered such gifts to have Kansai Electric place construction work orders with companies close to him in return.

Kepco was also found to have spent ¥259 million compensating retired executives for part of pay cuts imposed during a business slump following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami as well as the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

But the Osaka prosecutors said they could not find any fraudulent construction orders or evidence powerful enough to overturn a former senior Kepco official’s testimony that the retired executives were paid fairly for post-retirement work by the firm.

“We’ve repeatedly considered (whether or not to indict the nine executives) as the scandals captured strong attention from the public,” the prosecutors said.

Frustrated with the no-indictment decision, the civic group plans to seek re-examination of the cases by a prosecution inquest panel.

“We’re determined to have (the former executives) finally face mandatory indictment,” lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai, the civic group’s proxy, told an online news conference. “We want to reveal things that were not found in the prosecutors’ lax investigation.”

Kepco said the company is not in a position to make a comment about the prosecutors’ decision and that it hopes to steadily improve its business affairs.

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