Japan firms fined $3.4 million over maglev bid-rigging

A maglev train is returns to its station after setting a new world speed record during a test run on April 21, 2015. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2018
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Japan firms fined $3.4 million over maglev bid-rigging

  • The maglev trains are scheduled to begin commercial service between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027
  • Maglev trains will run at 500 kilometers per hour, roughly twice as fast as the current bullet trains in Japan

TOKYO: Two major construction companies were Monday ordered to pay fines totaling more than $3 million for colluding to win contracts on Japan’s multi-billion-dollar maglev project.
The state-of-the-art maglev — magnetic levitation — trains are scheduled to begin commercial service between Tokyo and Nagoya in central Japan in 2027, later extending to the western hub of Osaka.
The giant project, estimated to cost nine trillion yen ($86 billion) in total, has seen a host of firms compete for contracts ranging from tunneling work to building stations.
The Japan Fair Trade Commission brought charges against four companies in March for suspected anti-trust violations, accusing them of sharing estimated costs for construction work.
On Monday, the Tokyo district court ordered one of those companies, Obayashi, to pay ¥200 million and a second, Shimizu, to pay ¥180 million.
The case against the two other companies is still ongoing.
Presiding judge Takumi Suzuki said the collusion had “prevented fair and free competition,” local media reported.
“We accept the ruling and we will do our best to take preventive measures and other additional steps to regain trust promptly,” Obayashi said in a statement.
Shimizu described the collusion as “regrettable.”
Maglev trains will run at 500 kilometers per hour, roughly twice as fast as the current bullet trains in Japan.
A maglev train clocked a new world speed record in a 2015 test run near Mount Fuji, smashing through the 600 kilometers per hour mark.


EU slaps sanctions on Syrians, Russians over attacks

Updated 21 January 2019
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EU slaps sanctions on Syrians, Russians over attacks

  • EU foreign ministers slapped travel bans and asset freezes on nine people and on Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center

BRUSSELS: The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on four Russians blamed for a nerve agent attack in Britain as well as a Syrian research center and its staff as the 28-nation bloc stepped up its action against the use of chemical weapons.
EU foreign ministers slapped travel bans and asset freezes on nine people and on Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center.
Five of those targeted are linked to the Syrian center’s activities. Britain’s foreign office said they “have played a central role in the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against their own people.”
The four Russians on the list are the two men accused of planting the nerve agent in Salisbury last March, Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, and their superiors, the head and deputy head of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence unit.
The ministers said in a statement from their meeting in Brussels that the sanctions move “contributes to the EU’s efforts to counter the proliferation and use of chemical weapons, which poses a serious threat to international security.”
It’s the first time the EU has imposed sanctions to combat chemical weapons.
“Today’s new sanctions deliver on our vow to take tough action against the reckless and irresponsible activities of the Russian military intelligence organization, the GRU, which put innocent British citizens in serious danger in Salisbury last year,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement.
“We will continue to show our willingness to stand up for the international rules that keep us safe, and which the Kremlin and the Assad regime seek to undermine,” he added.