Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Former Japan Science Ministry Executive Found Guilty in Aerospace Agency Bribery Case


Tokyo District Court on Wednesday sentenced former Japanese science ministry executive Kazuaki Kawabata to 18 months in prison, suspended or three years, over a bribery case related to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA.

Kawabata “significantly lacked a sense of responsibility as a senior government bureaucrat and damaged public trust,” Presiding Judge Goichi Nishino said. The 58-year-old former director-general for international affairs at the ministry was also fined about 1.5 million yen.

The duration of the prison sentence and the amount of the fine were the same as those sought by public prosecutors. Kawabata, also former JAXA vice president, had pleaded not guilty.

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Nishino noted that Kawabata had been wined and dined since late 2013 by Koji Taniguchi, 48, former executive at a medical consulting firm, with whom he became acquainted through a former lawmaker. Taniguchi has been indicted on charges including bribe-offering.

“Kawabata was able to recognize that he was asked to give favorable treatment as he was introduced (to Taniguchi) as a senior bureaucrat,” the judge said. Actually, Kawabata did a favor to Taniguchi in the dispatch of a JAXA astronaut to give a lecture at Tokyo Medical University, a client of Taniguchi, the judge added.

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