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Old February 4th, 2006, 02:50 AM   #1
hkskyline
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Japan Proposes Tougher Punishment for Faulty Building Architects

Reports: Japanese panel proposes tougher punishment for architects of faulty buildings
By KANA INAGAKI
30 January 2006

TOKYO (AP) - A government panel on Monday proposed heavier penalties for architects who design faulty buildings, following findings that dozens of Tokyo structures would not withstand a moderate earthquake, media reported.

Kyodo News agency and several newspapers said the proposed measures include jailing architects who violate building standards, and requiring the release of the names of all architects implicated in such violations.

The building scandal is centered around allegations that a prominent architect faked earthquake resistance data in dozens of buildings to lower construction costs.

Hisashi Abe, an official with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation, acknowledged an interim report had been issued, but denied that it had details on punishments or fines. The final report is due in February.

However, news reports said fines would be raised from the current 500,000 yen (US$4,275) to a maximum of 3 million yen ($25,640).

The plan would also have independent agencies check architects' submitted structural data, the Yomiuri newspaper said.

Local authorities' control would also be extended, letting them enter buildings under construction to ensure safety standards are implemented, the Mainichi newspaper reported.

The ministry will use the panel's final report to draft proposed legislation for parliamentary consideration later this year, the newspapers said.

The scandal has sparked outrage in Japan, one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and prompted public hearings in Parliament on architects and building developers.

The government has approved 8 billion yen ($68.4 million) to compensate those who bought condominiums in faulty buildings.

Also Monday, a housing development company at the center of the scandal announced it would sue 18 local governments, including Tokyo, for a total of 14 billion yen (US$119 million) for failing to properly check its buildings.

Huser Management Ltd. filed the suit Monday, Susumu Ojima, the company's president, told reporters.

The company was heavily criticized after architect Hidetsugu Aneha said pressure from builders like Huser to cut costs had forced him to falsify safety data.

Ojima earlier this month denied wrongdoing and urged the government to help compensate residents who bought dangerous apartments.
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Old November 23rd, 2006, 02:08 PM   #2
hkskyline
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Report: Japan architect pleads guilty
6 September 2006

TOKYO (AP) - A Japanese architect charged with violating safety standards by faking earthquake-resistance data for hundreds of buildings pleaded guilty on Wednesday, media reports said.

Hidetsugu Aneha, 49, admitted in Tokyo District Court to the prosecutors' charges that he fabricated the data to enable developers to cut costs, public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News agency reported.

Court officials refused to confirm the reported details from the trial session.

The scandal, which broke last year, has shocked Japan -- one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries -- and forced the government to provide financial support for hundreds of residents who had to move out of buildings deemed unsafe.

Prosecutors say Aneha allegedly designed more than 200 buildings using faked quake data because profit-hungry developers had pressured him to cut costs -- at the expense of safety.

Several of the buildings that Aneha designed were later ruled unsafe and set to be demolished.

The scandal also prompted Japan's parliament in June to enact a law allowing authorities to impose tougher penalties on architects and prompted dozens of residents of an Aneha-designed condominium to file lawsuits seeking damages from him and city authorities for their lax inspections.

Several other construction industry officials were also arrested and indicted along with Aneha.
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