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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2005, 10:01 GMT
Japan construction scandal widens
Architect Hidetsugu Aneha bows after appearing before a Lower House committee in Tokyo, Wednesday, December 14, 2005.
Mr Aneha bowed in apology
A Japanese architect who has admitted breaching construction rules in his designs has said he was not the only person involved in the scandal.

Questioned in parliament, Hidetsugu Aneha alleged a construction company put pressure on him to falsify quake resistance data in order to cut costs.

He also questioned the role played by safety inspectors, saying the falsified records should have been easy to spot.

The scandal has outraged the public in earthquake-prone Japan.

Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has said Mr Aneha falsified data for at least 71 buildings of the 208 he designed.

Mr Aneha told parliament on Wednesday, during the nationally televised interrogation, that started falsifying structural data in 1998.

'Failure to check'

But he said he was under strong pressure from at least one construction company.

"At that time, about 90% of my business was with Kimura Construction, which told me that it would cut ties unless I accepted to reduce the amount of steel reinforcement," he said.

"I was under heavy pressure, but initially I refused partly because of my pride as first-class certified architect," he said. "But I had a sick wife who was in and out of a hospital, and refusing meant zero income."

Akira Shinozuka, former Tokyo branch manager of Kimura Construction, admitted pressuring Mr Aneha to cut costs, but said he trusted the architect as a structural expert and did not think he was breaking the law.

Mr Aneha also blamed inspection companies for failing to check his designs.

"Because the contents were simple, I thought they would be found out when they were presented to inspection firms," he said.

"It's a fact that they did not check," he added.

But lawmakers did not shrink from criticising Mr Aneha for his role in the scandal.

"You played an important role in building murderous apartments and hotels, causing thousands of people serious trouble," said Fumihiro Himori, of the opposition Democratic Socialist Party.

Hundreds of people have already been evacuated from apartment blocks and hotels deemed to be at risk.

Japan has been scrambling to ensure its architecture is quake-proof ever since more than 6,400 people died in a 7.3 magnitude tremor in the western city of Kobe in 1995.




SEE ALSO:
Japan scandal prompts quake fears
29 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan's schooling for scandal
17 Mar 05 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Kobe 10 years on
17 Jan 05 |  In Pictures
Japan's earthquake watch
25 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific


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