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Japanese Investigation Alleges 22 Hotels Recently Built
 in Japan Are Not Up to Earthquake Standards

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Dec. 1, 2005 - -TOKYO--Sogo Keiei Kenkyujo (Soken) and Kimura Construction Co. took part in construction of most of the 22 hotels suspected to be insufficiently earthquake-resistant due to the alleged falsification of data by Aneha Architect Design Office in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, a Yomiuri Shimbun investigation found Thursday.

Soken served as a consultant to at least 10 companies engaged in development and construction of the 22 hotels, and introduced Kimura Construction and Heisei Sekkei, the construction company's affiliated architectural design firm, to the clients.

The close relationship between Soken, based in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, and Kimura Construction, based in Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture, also was pointed out in Diet deliberations.

Three of the hotels are the Kayabacho, Gotanda and Ikebukuro branches in central Tokyo of Keio Presso Inn, a budget hotel chain operated by Keio Corp., a railway operator. According to representatives of the parent company, Soken was also a consultant to Keio when it decided to enter the budget hotel business.

Through the business connection, Keio was introduced to Heisei Sekkei and Kimura Construction, which used the Aneha office as a design and construction subcontractor on many projects.

Owners of three of the hotels found Wednesday to have been built with falsified data--Meitetsu Inn Kariya in Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, Sanco Inn Kuwana-Ekimae in Kuwana, Mie Prefecture, and Country Hotel Takayama in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture--also hired Soken as consultants.

Soken recommended they hire Heisei Sekkei and other firms connected to Soken to perform construction works.

The owner of Ace Inn Matsumoto, a hotel in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, was advised to open the hotel by executives of Soken and Kubota Construction, a company based in Komagane, Nagano Prefecture, that was the main contractor for construction of the hotel.

The owner contracted Soken as a consultant and was introduced to Heisei Sekkei, described by Soken executives as an excellent architectural design firm.

Kubota Construction, which built three hotels designed with falsified data including Ace Inn Matsumoto, had also used Soken as a consultant. Kubota Construction on Monday made public a report on the issue prepared by its lawyers.

The company said Heisei Sekkei hired the Aneha office to perform the earthquake-resistance calculations, and Kubota Construction did not know there was a problem until the scandal surfaced.

Heisei Sekkei, based in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kimura Construction. The wife of Kimura Construction President Moriyoshi Kimura serves as president of Heisei Sekkei.

At the same time, Heisei Sekkei is seen as a group company of Soken and is headquartered inside Soken's head office in the Kanda district of Chiyoda Ward.

Soken President Takeshi Uchikawa said the scandal was "a bolt from the blue" in his written reply to question from The Yomiuri Shimbun.

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To see more of The Yomiuri Shimbun, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.yomiuri.co.jp and www.yomiuri.co.jp/index-e.htm

Copyright (c) 2005, The Yomiuri Shimbun

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