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Politics

Japan court fines 2 contractors for maglev project bid-rigging

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A court fined two major Japanese contractors on Monday for involvement in rigging bids for construction work in the Tokyo-Osaka maglev train project.

The Tokyo District Court ordered Obayashi Corp. and Shimizu Corp. to pay 200 million yen ($1.78 million) and 180 million yen antitrust fines, respectively, for violating the antimonopoly law, recognizing their collusive ties with two other major contractors, Kajima Corp. and Taisei Corp.

Prosecutors have also indicted Kajima, Taisei and an individual from each of the two firms, but they have denied the charges.

The two individuals, who were arrested in March, are former Taisei Managing Director Takashi Okawa and Kajima's civil engineering sales division manager Ichiro Osawa.

Obayashi and Shimizu voluntarily reported to the Japan Fair Trade Commission on their actions based on the leniency system by the deadline to do so in January, and have pleaded guilty. Prosecutors sought 200 million yen in fines for each.

According to the indictments, the two companies allegedly undermined fair market competition by deciding contract winners in advance and exchanging information on estimated prices based on an agreement reached between April 2014 and August 2015 for construction work at Shinagawa and Nagoya stations.

The central government has provided 3 trillion yen for the 9 trillion yen project by Central Japan Railway Co. to be completed by 2037.

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