The Japanese transport ministry has ordered two of the country’s big four construction companies to suspend part of their businesses for four months after they were found guilty by the Tokyo District Court of violating anti-monopoly laws.
The ruling, issued on Friday, means that Obayashi, Japan’s largest contractor, and Shimizu, the fourth largest, are prohibited from engaging in new construction projects for 120 days from 2 February, but they can continue to work on projects they have already started.
The suspension was ordered after the companies admitted violating the Anti-Monopoly Act during bidding for the Shinkansen Shinagawa Station, part of Central Japan Railways work on a planned maglev link between Tokyo and Nagoya.
Shimizu said in a statement: "We regret that this grave situation has occurred and apologise once again to all of our shareholders and other stakeholders for the concern that this matter has caused. We have put in place stringent measures to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents."
Last October, Obayashi was ordered to pay a fine of $1.8m and Shimizu $1.6m for colluding with two other major contractors, Kajima and Taisei in dividing up work between them.
Taisei and Kajima and two former executives of the contractors will stand trial on 14 February, also at the Tokyo District Court.
All four contractors were banned from bidding for the transport ministry’s schemes for four months, beginning in March last year.
Image: The Tokaido shinkansen platform of Nagoya Station (Wpcpey/CC BY-SA 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.te