Graft Scandal Could Affect Kansai Restarts

A payoff scandal in Japan could threaten the restart schedule of three Kansai Electric Power Company nuclear reactors, according to media reports, although top Kansai officials said they would stay at their jobs to investigate the matter.

Takahama NPPThe scandal could also impact the public’s already shaken confidence in the industry, according to a Bloomberg News report, especially in the wake of last month’s acquittal of Tokyo Electric Power Company executives who were charged with neglecting their responsibilities prior to the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power station.

Two of Kansai Electric Power Company’s units that are expected to restart in early 2020 are in Takahama, the city that is tied to the payoffs, as a former deputy mayor, Eiji Mariyama, who died at age 90 in March, was the principle source of the graft, according to a 20-page report on the scandal prepared by the utility. 

The report says that Mariyama was an intimidating, threatening character who bullied the utility executives into accepting the gifts, which came in the form of gold, tailored suits and cash.

At stake was millions of dollars of construction work required to upgrade the reactors to meet post-Fukushima Dai-ichi standards. The company Yoshida Kaihatsu, which channeled money to the utility through Mariyama, who was also a former Kansai consultant on government affairs, has won Kansai post-Fukushima upgrade contracts worth $23 million.

The Japanese government at the highest levels, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, is calling for investigations into the graft.

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