2 Japanese firms fined Y380 mil over maglev bid-rigging

2 Japanese firms fined Y380 mil over maglev bid-rigging

Two major construction companies were Monday ordered to pay fines totalling 380 million yen for colluding to win contracts on the Japan’s maglev project.

The state-of-the-art maglev — magnetic levitation — trains are scheduled to begin commercial service between Tokyo and Nagoya in central Japan in 2027, later extending to the western hub of Osaka.

The giant project, estimated to cost nine trillion yen in total, has seen a host of firms compete for contracts ranging from tunneling work to building stations.

The Japan Fair Trade Commission brought charges against four companies in March for suspected anti-trust violations, accusing them of sharing estimated costs for construction work.

On Monday, the Tokyo district court ordered one of those companies, Obayashi, to pay 200 million yen and a second, Shimizu, to pay 180 million yen. The case against the two other companies is still ongoing.

Presiding judge Takumi Suzuki said the collusion had “prevented fair and free competition”, local media reported.

“We accept the ruling and we will do our best to take preventive measures and other additional steps to regain trust promptly,” Obayashi said in a statement.

Shimizu described the collusion as “regrettable”.

Maglev trains will run at 500 kilometers per hour, roughly twice as fast as the current bullet trains in Japan. A maglev train clocked a new world speed record in a 2015 test run near Mount Fuji, smashing through the 600 kilometers per hour mark.

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