Japanese power firm executives quit over $3 million gift scandal

Kansai Electric Power Co. Chairman Makoto Yagi, left, and President Shigeki Iwane attends a press conference in Osaka, western Japan Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (AP)
Updated 09 October 2019

Japanese power firm executives quit over $3 million gift scandal

  • Yagi's resignation is effective immediately, but Iwane will stay on until an independent probe into the scandal is complete

TOKYO: The chairman of a Japanese power firm resigned Wednesday after admitting he and other executives received money and gifts worth around $3 million from a town hosting one of their nuclear plants.
The money and gifts were given to some 20 executives over the course of seven years from 2011 by the late deputy mayor of Takahama town, where Kansai Electric (KEPCO) has a nuclear plant.
"I and (KEPCO president Shigeki) Iwane have decided to step down to clarify our management responsibility over the situation," KEPCO Chairman Makoto Yagi told reporters after a board meeting.
Yagi's resignation is effective immediately, but Iwane will stay on until an independent probe into the scandal is complete later this year, he said.
The gifts came to light after investigations by tax authorities into the late deputy mayor Eiji Moriyama.
According to local media, tax agency investigations found that Moriyama received a 300-million-yen commission from a local construction company hired for projects at the Takahama plant.
Moriyama reportedly told tax authorities he had decided to give KEPCO officials the money in the form of both cash and gifts as a token of his appreciation.
Yagi and Iwane apologised after the scandal came to light, but initially refused to step down.
They changed their mind after being heavily criticised and realising the damage being done to the public's trust in KEPCO, executives said.
On Wednesday Iwane apologised again, and said he will assume a "last mission" of revealing the whole truth of the scandal by cooperating with the independent probe committee, which is due to issue a report in December.
The executives have said they planned to return the gifts and money "at the right time".
"We were afraid our relationship with the local government would be damaged" if the gifts and money were rejected, Iwane has said.
It was not immediately clear if KEPCO, which runs the Takahama nuclear plant with four reactors in central Fukui prefecture, will face sanctions over the incident.


Malaysia to study impact of India’s planned trade action

A truck carrying oil palm fruits passes through Felda Sahabat plantation in Lahad Datu in Malaysia's state of Sabah on Borneo island, February 20, 2013. (REUTERS)
Updated 14 October 2019

Malaysia to study impact of India’s planned trade action

  • Malaysia’s key imports from India include petroleum products, live animals and meats, metals, chemicals and chemical products

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said his government will monitor the trade situation with India, which is reported to be considering trade curbs on the Southeast Asian nation over his criticism of actions in Kashmir, news wire Bernama reported.
Government and industry sources told Reuters last week that New Delhi is looking for ways to limit palm oil imports and other goods from Malaysia, in retaliation for Mahathir’s speech at the United Nations in September when he said India had “invaded and occupied” Jammu and Kashmir. Malaysia had said it did not receive “anything official” from India.
Mahathir said on Sunday his government will “study the impact of the action taken by India,” the government-owned Bernama said.
“They are exporting goods to Malaysia too. It’s not just one-way trade, it’s two-way trade,” Mahathir was quoted as saying in the report.
India is the world’s biggest importer of edible oils, and is the biggest buyer of Malaysian palm oil. It bought 3.9 million tons of Malaysian palm oil in the first nine months of 2019, according to data compiled by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board.
Malaysia’s key imports from India include petroleum products, live animals and meats, metals, chemicals and chemical products.