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Japan's lower house passes bills to toughen penalties on architects
25 May 2006

TOKYO (AP) - Japan's lower house of Parliament passed legislation Thursday to revise construction laws so that tougher penalties could be imposed on architects following a widening scandal involving buildings constructed with faked earthquake-resistance data.

Yosuke Tsutsumi, an official of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, confirmed that the more powerful house of the Parliament approved the legislation.

The legislation calls for prison terms of up to three years or maximum fines of 3 million yen (US$26,600) against architects and builders who design and construct buildings that do not meet structural safety standards, he said.

Under the current law, the maximum penalty is a 500,000 yen (US$4,400) with no prison term.

The legislation has been sent to the Parliament's upper house for approval. Though it was not immediately clear when the chamber would vote, the legislation was all but certain to become law, since the ruling coalition holds a majority in both houses.

The scandal, which broke last year when architect Hidetsugu Aneha admitted he covered up potentially catastrophic defects in buildings across the country, has sent shock waves through one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries.

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.

Aneha has been arrested and indicted along with several construction industry officials.
 

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after the scandal this is a welcome decision by the government.
 
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