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    Blame game

    Some of the buildings with faked earthquake code certifications have been identified. You can guess the result:

    Bureaucrats were busy taking calls from anxious residents Saturday following news reports of falsified structural strength data for 21 buildings in Tokyo and in Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures.

    In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, structural strength reports of five apartment buildings–including two that have residents–were falsified, it was revealed by the Construction and Transport Ministry on Friday.

    Seven officials of the Funabashi municipal government’s building guidance division came to work Saturday to respond to residents’ inquiries. They were kept busy answering a spate of phone calls from residents from about 8 a.m.

    However, a ward official said: “We’ve also been waiting for the result of a reassessment of the building’s structural strength from the ministry. We can’t say whether the building is safe or dangerous at the moment.”

    Officials dealing with the issue in other municipalities also were having a hard time. One of them asked, “How can we explain to residents when we don’t have any data?” Another asked, “Should I just tell the residents to evacuate their apartments?”

    Oy. Another big, if (slightly) less urgent question: Who’s going to be stuck with the blame when the dust settles? (Kind of a ghoulish figure of speech in this case, but I couldn’t resist):

    “Basically, the first-class architect, who holds a government certified qualification and acted dishonestly, bears heavy responsibility,” Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said at a press conference Friday in reference to 48-year-old Aneha, of Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, who owns Aneha Architect Design Office.

    But Ishihara went on to say the government also was to blame because it failed to properly oversee eHomes, the Tokyo private organization that checked documents filed by Aneha on behalf of the government.

    “I think it [eHomes] didn’t read the documents properly and was slack about issuing approvals,” Ishihara said.

    “As the government commissioned the task to the private sector, the government should have properly guided the private sector,” he said.

    “The government should be blamed for the scandal,” he added.

    But the government is reluctant to consider providing assistance to the condominium residents.

    “Basically, it is an issue that occurred as a result of private economic activities,” a senior Construction and Transport Ministry official said. “As it is clear that the cause of the scandal was a deliberate falsification of documents, it is difficult for the government to help them.”

    The government has asked local governments to provide public housing for the residents, but moving costs and rent likely will have to be paid by the residents themselves.

    Aneha, who provided the falsified reports, said the falsification is easy to detect if one does a simple calculation, but eHomes failed to spot it.

    Apparently, so did the government agencies.

    2 Responses to “Blame game”

    1. Zak says:

      There’s an amazing amount of this kind of fraud in Japan, it seems. Since everyone in those apartment buildings could have died as a result of his malfeasance, I think the “architect” should be charged with one count of attempted murder per resident.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I don’t know how the relevant law works here, but I’m assuming he could be charged with fraud or gross negligence. I find it rich that the government keeps blathering that this is a private sector matter. Uh, yeah, because you entrusted building inspections to untrustworthy parties and didn’t keep tabs on them.

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