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Apa Group and the structural engineering fraud scandal January 26, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in crime, Japan, law, Media, Society.

The media started reporting that 2 Apa Group hotels in Kyoto have been shut down by local authorities who have announced that they have found that the two buildings did not comply with building code regulations relating to earthquakeproofing.

I first wrote about Apa’s scandals back in October, and Togo Fujita, the disgraced CEO of eHomes (a private building inspection agency  which had been one of the original whistleblowers in the Aneha/Huser scandal – albeit they were also the ones that rubberstamped the inspections previously) had mentioned that Apa Group buildings were suspect as far back as March 2006 (his comments were not widely broadcast by the media at that time, and most of the media also ignored the issue when it was widely reported around the blogosphere in October when Fujita communicated several statements through the mysterious and widely read Kikko’s Blog).

The news media have ignored the cases reported in October, which related to residential complex developments by the Apa Group in Chiba and Saitama. People who had put down deposits for their new homes complained that they did not recieve adequate communications from Apa, who eventually refunded the deposits. Apa had sent Fujita a letter threatening legal action back in October, which apparently was just bluster as Fujita has not received notice of legal action even three months later.

The question seems to be, why now?

Timing of such disclosures by government related agencies are so often politically motivated so let us consider what the government would like the media to stop reporting about…..

Closing arguments for (ex-)Livedoor’s Horiemon’s criminal case were scheduled for today. Does the government suspect that the criminal case is weak and will not be able to lock him away? (Verdict on March 16th)

I don’t think the Abe government are going to pull out all the stops to protect either Livedoor/Horiemon or the prosecutor’s office. So, moving along….

Abe’s cabinet continues to leak stories of misusing political funds. In the last couple of months, we’ve had Honma (who was shacked up in cushy bureaucrat housing with his mistress), Ibuki (Education minister, who was claiming he spent tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on office rent, although his registered office was in the rent-free diet members’ building. Rent bills do not need a receipt under the lax rules pertaining to politicians’ expenses, and it now appears many people are abusing this by spending the money on non-rent related things (like food) and then just claiming an arbitary amount of rent – politicians’ expenses merits a separate post of its own) , Matsuoka (Agriculture Minister, ditto), and now Kyuma (Defense Minister, whose registered offices appear to be a mahjong parlour and an ex-secretary’s residence). Abe’s popularity is now down below 40%, and a quiet news week would probably have resulted in the Kyuma issue given much exposure in the mainstream press.

Why has it taken so long to uncover these problems? Is it because Apa Group is close to Shinzo Abe?

Perhaps, but I’m guessing the powers who control these things were also sitting on it to use when they needed to deflect attention from some even worse (but less likely to caputre the public’s imagination) news, such as the political scandals. And just think, people like Huser’s Ojima and Apa’s weird dressing female CEO thought they had bought their way into the inner circle of power by supporting (I don’t think it was just vocal support) Abe. I bet they are feeling like right tools now when they realise they have been milked and then dumped to change the subject. Perhaps they should ask for their money back. But then I don’t expect that they got a receipt for their contributions.


1. Adamu - January 26, 2007

On that note, it is also interesting that the revelations are topping the news just as the Diet convenes and Abe makes his first major policy speech in the Diet since taking office. If ever there was a time to deflect attention from an unpopular leader it’s now.

2. fukumimi - January 26, 2007

Yes, the Diet session kicked off, and the timing coincides. But if they feel that the policy speech needs to be buried, they are really in trouble. That is like deflecting attention away from the State of the Union address. (OK, it isn’t nearly as important in the structural scheme of things here)

Abe really is a crappy communicator. He doesn’t have stage presence. The fact that he is on stage directly following Koizumi doesn’t help. Koizumi didn’t have much, but he was certainly gifted in that area.

3. Kanji of the Year 2007 » 世論 What Japan Thinks - December 12, 2007

[…] off with fake health benefits from natto, and continued with one scandal after another, from construction companies faking earthquake resistance to beef-free beef croquettes. This leads us to the number two choice, 食, shoku, food, where in […]

4. The One With The Kanji Of The Year « So no one told you life was gonna be this way. - December 14, 2007

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