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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Former Fukushima Governor convicted

October 18, 2012


Conviction to be set for ex-Fukushima gov.

The Supreme Court has rejected appeals by both the prosecution and former Fukushima Gov. Eisaku Sato, who was convicted of bribery related to a dam building project, meaning his sentence of two years imprisonment suspended four years is set to be finalized.

Sato, 73, is suspected of urging a construction contractor to purchase land from his brother. The court also rejected appeals from the prosecution and Sato's brother Yuji, 69, who was convicted of bid-rigging and bribery, and sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended four years.





October 17, 2012


Ex-Fukushima governor loses appeal over bribe-taking conviction for dam project




The Supreme Court has upheld a suspended prison term for former Fukushima Gov. Eisaku Sato, known as a critic of the central government's nuclear power policy, for accepting a bribe over a dam construction project.

The top court dismissed an appeal by Sato, 73, against a Tokyo High Court ruling that sentenced him in October 2009 to two years in prison, suspended for four years. The court also upheld a high court ruling that sentenced Sato's 69-year-old brother, Yuji, to 18 months in prison, suspended for four years, for conspiring with the former governor in the case.

Former Gov. Sato criticized the top court ruling. "I never received any bribe, and the ruling is unacceptable. I'm disappointed at the judicial branch that was unable to clarify the facts," he said in a statement released by his defense lawyer.

In a symposium held at Fukushima University in February, Sato criticized prosecutors for pressing false charges against him. "I was hit with a false accusation because I voiced opposition to the national government's policy."

The defense counsel may seek a retrial in the case.

According to the indictment, Sato gave preferential treatment to Maeda Corp. in a tender for the Fukushima Prefectural Government's Kido Dam construction project in 2000.

In return, the then governor conspired with his younger brother to sell a land lot owned by a company run by the brother to Mizutani Kensetsu, a subcontractor of Maeda, for 973.72 million yen, a figure higher than the property's market price of 800 million yen, sometime between August and September 2002, giving the pair 173.72 million yen as a bribe, prosecutors alleged.

The former governor pleaded not guilty to the charges during his trials.

In August 2008, the Tokyo District Court recognized that the pair accepted approximately 73.72 million yen as a bribe, and sentenced the former governor to three years in prison, suspended for five years, and his brother to 30 months in prison, suspended for five years.

The Tokyo High Court scrapped the ruling after deeming that it could not determine that the market price of the land lot was 80 million yen at the time of the deal and refused to recognize the difference in the selling price and what was claimed to be the market price as a bribe. In an extremely rare move, however, the appeal court recognized the proceeds of selling the property to Mizutani Kensetsu as a bribe.

Both the defendants and the prosecution appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.

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