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Court upholds jail term for Japanese architect

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 7, 2007
A Japanese court on Wednesday upheld a five-year prison term for an architect at the centre of a nationwide scandal over buildings vulnerable to collapse during earthquakes.

The Tokyo High Court dismissed an appeal by Hidetsugu Aneha, 49, who was given a jail term and fined 1.8 million yen (15,700 US dollars) by a district court in December.

He outraged the nation by admitting he lied to save money on construction costs, and presiding Judge Kunio Harada said he had "caused huge suffering."

Nearly 100 condominiums and hotels designed by Aneha were found to have been built using false earthquake resistance data, with some not even strong enough to withstand a moderate tremor.

Aneha, who has been stripped of his architectural qualifications, admitted to conspiring with inspectors and construction firms.

He now has the option to take his appeal to the Supreme Court.

The admission grew into a national scandal in a country that experiences 20 percent of the world's major tremors and prides itself on constructing quake-proof buildings.

People's trust in the nation's construction industry has been eroding with revelations of homes that do not meet fire and earthquake safety requirements.

On Wednesday, it emerged that a 45-storey condominium being built in a Tokyo suburb lacked 128 reinforcing steel beams due to faulty work by major contractor Shimizu Corp.

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