Photo/IllutrationFukui prefectural officials apologize on Nov. 21 after announcing disciplinary measures against those who received an inordinate amount of monetary gifts from a former Takahama town official. (Naoki Hirano)

More than 100 high-ranking Fukui prefectural officials were included along with Kansai Electric Power Co. executives on the gift list of a former local official who helped bring a nuclear plant to Takahama, Fukui Prefecture.

The government officials received monetary and other gifts over a 20-year period from the late Eiji Moriyama, a former deputy mayor of Takahama, who wielded influence even after retiring as a town official.

After reports surfaced in late September that dozens of Kansai Electric executives received millions in yen worth of gift certificates and cash, the Fukui prefectural government asked a committee of lawyers to look into whether prefectural officials also received gifts from Moriyama.

The results of that investigation were released on Nov. 21.

The officials who were questioned mainly worked in departments handling human rights awareness, civil engineering and local economic development.

A total of 377 current and retired prefectural government officials were covered in the study and responses were received from 313.

A total of 109 employees acknowledged receiving a gift from Moriyama. Of that number, 21 were found to have received amounts that exceeded what is considered standard etiquette. The total came to the equivalent of 1.22 million yen ($11,000).

The most received by any one official was 200,000 yen. That official was the only one disciplined by the Fukui prefectural government with a warning.

Cash and gift certificates were distributed by Moriyama. In one case, an official received a gold coin worth 100,000 yen. There was one example of Moriyama using a method often seen in period TV dramas about corruption among samurai officials. The official received a box of sweets and concealed under the treats were gift certificates worth 20,000 yen.

Many of the officials said they sent gifts in return to Moriyama that matched the amounts they received.

None of the officials said that they provided any benefits to Moriyama or any companies he may have been affiliated with.

The investigative committee pointed out that one reason the practice appeared to have continued for so long was that many officials decided to handle the matter on their own rather than bring it up with others so that an organization-wide response could be made.

The committee also looked into whether prefectural governors received anything of value from Moriyama.

Yukio Kurita, who served as governor between 1987 and 2003, acknowledged receiving gifts at the traditional summer and year-end seasons.

But his two successors, Issei Nishikawa and Tatsuji Sugimoto, the current governor, did not receive any gifts from Moriyama.

Takeo Fujii, the lawyer who chaired the investigation committee, pointed out that while Moriyama was active in learning about human rights at the local level, he was not the easiest person to get along with.

"Because of his emotional mood swings, the understanding among prefectural officials was that he was an individual who had to be dealt with carefully," Fujii said.

He added that some officials who tried to return gifts were severely scolded by Moriyama to such an extent that they had no choice but to keep them.

Sugimoto released a statement on Nov. 21 apologizing for the revelation that prefectural government officials received excessive gifts from Moriyama and pledged to implement measures to prevent a recurrence.