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Kansai Electric Power Co.’s in-house probe of its executives’ receipt of money and gifts worth more than ¥300 million from a former deputy mayor of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture — which hosts one of Kepco’s nuclear power plants — highlighted the decades-long unusual relationship between the power company and the figure who held a powerful influence over the town until his death in March. At the same time, Kepco’s explanation over its sharply increased contracts with a local construction company with close ties to the figure — who was given information over the utility’s nuclear power-related works and was paid ¥300 million by the construction firm — is hardly convincing.

Kepco says it will launch a third-party probe by lawyers over the intransparent exchanges between the firm and the late Eiji Moriyama, to come to a conclusion by the end of the year. Such a probe must get to the bottom of whether there was collusion between the nuclear power plant operator and the influential figure in the plant’s host municipality.

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