Property scandal rattles Japanese

Under intense grilling by Japanese lawmakers, developers embroiled in a high-profile construction scam yesterday denied conspiring with an architect to fake earthquake safety data on condominiums and hotels around Tokyo.

The scandal has focused on architect Hidetsugu Aneha, who acknowledged earlier this month ducking quake regulations on at least 21 buildings, all of which have been found at risk of collapsing in a moderately strong temblor.

"This issue has stunned the nation, brought fear to the lives of innocent citizens, and taken away many peoples' livelihoods," ruling party lawmaker Rokuzaemon Yoshida lectured the developers in the lower house committee hearing.

The scandal has drawn intense scrutiny in Japan, one of the world's most earthquake prone countries.

Huser Management Ltd President Susumu Ojima said yesterday his company had merely followed plans drawn up by Aneha, and had not found out the company's buildings were substandard until he was informed by an inspection agency earlier this month.

Togo Fujita, president of the building inspection firm eHomes Inc, which first exposed the fact that Aneha's designs were faulty, told the lawmakers he was pressured by Ojima not to go public with his findings, Shanghai Daily reports.


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