Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has suspended the country’s four biggest contractors from bidding for public works projects after their indictment for bid-rigging on maglev train projects.
The four – Obayashi, Kajima, Shimizu and Taisei – will not be eligible to bid for tenders from the ministry for the next five months. They had already been hit with a similar ban from the ministries of land, infrastructure, transport, tourism and environment.
On 23 March, prosecutors began legal action against the four companies, as well as two individuals from Kajima and Taisei, after the Japan Fair Trade Commission filed a criminal complaint against them over the Tokyo-Osaka maglev train line project.
The four firms are suspected of holding meetings to divide up work on the $80bn project to build a maglev line between Tokyo and Nagoya.
Obayashi and Shimizu, respectively the first and third largest contractors in Japan, have admitted wrongdoing to the Japan Fair Trade Commission.
Kajima has said it is taking the charges seriously and "deeply apologised to our shareholders, customers and all our stakeholders for causing such an incident in spite of implementing various measures for compliance over the years".
Taisei responded to the prosecution by releasing a statement saying it took the situation seriously "but we believe that the indicted facts cannot be construed as a violation of the Antimonopoly Act, and in the lawsuit, we will emphasize this point in our arguments".Â
Image: Japan’s L0 maglev train on the Yamanashi test track outside Tokyo (Saruno Hirobano /Creative Commons)Â
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