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Use of public funds

March 22, 2012 

Mayor of town hosting nuke plant under fire for gifts to prefectural governor, exec



GENKAI, Saga -- The mayor of this town which is home to Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Genkai nuclear power plant sent beef and other local delicacies to the Saga governor and the utility's executive last year, when the reactivation of the plant's reactors had been debated, it has emerged.

Genkai Mayor Hideo Kishimoto gave the food gifts to Saga Gov. Yasushi Furukawa and a senior official at Kyushu Electric Power Co. between April and May 2011, at a time when the recipients' decisions were at stake over the resumption of the Genkai nuclear plant's No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.

According to the Genkai Municipal Government, the mayor brought to Gov. Furukawa six packs of strawberries under the local brand "Saga Honoka" (4,725 yen in total) as a souvenir on April 20, 2011, and sent to the governor a Saga beef set (8,320 yen) and four packages of raw hamburg (1,680 yen in total) at a postal cost of 950 yen on May 26. The gifts and the mail cost were covered by the mayor's entertainment expenses.

Furthermore, Mayor Kishimoto gave an assortment of Saga beef (25,600 yen) to a senior Kyushu Electric official when he visited the utility on May 30 last year. All the gift items were given on the grounds of "promoting local specialties of Genkai and other areas," according to the city.

When asked about the use of public funds for the gifts to the governor, Mayor Kishimoto said, "I don't remember well, but I probably thought that I needed to have the governor know about local specialties as he was eager to export prefecture-made products overseas. ... I never talked about the reactivation of nuclear reactors."

Gov. Furukawa said, "I don't remember if I received the gifts or not. I believe the mayor brings such items as promotional tools rather than as presents."

Kyushu Electric's press officials commented, "We are confirming the facts at the moment."



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