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.


Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

Updated 24 April 2019
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Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

  • An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996
  • The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time

TOKYO: Japan’s government apologized Wednesday to tens of thousands of victims forcibly sterilized under a now-defunct Eugenics Protection Law and promised to pay compensation.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he was offering “sincere remorse and heartfelt apology” to the victims.
His apology comes just after the parliament enactment earlier Wednesday of legislation to provide redress measures, including $28,600 (¥3.2 million) compensation for each victim.
An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996. The law was designed to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants” and allowed doctors to sterilize people with disabilities. It was quietly renamed as the Maternity Protection Law in 1996, when the discriminatory condition was removed.
The redress legislation acknowledges that many people were forced to have operations to remove their reproductive organs or radiation treatment to get sterilized, causing them tremendous pain mentally and physically.
The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time.
The apology and the redress law follow a series of lawsuits by victims who came forward recently after breaking decades of silence. That prompted lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties to draft a compensation package to make amends for the victims.
The plaintiffs are seeking about ¥30 million each ($268,000) in growing legal actions that are spreading around the country, saying the government’s implementation of the law violated the victims’ right to self-determination, reproductive health and equality. They say the government redress measures are too small for their suffering.
In addition to the forced sterilizations, more than 8,000 others were sterilized with consent, though likely under pressure, while nearly 60,000 women had abortions because of hereditary illnesses, according to Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
Among them were about 10,000 leprosy patients who had been confined in isolated institutions until 1996, when the leprosy prevention law was also abolished. The government has already offered compensation and an apology to them for its forced isolation policy.