(Asahi: December 18, 2015 – p. 4)
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the operator of the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor, awarded 99.07% of 719 contracts to affiliate firms and organizations in bidding only open to them from April 2011 to September 2015, a survey from a Liberal Democratic Party’s Administrative Reform Promotion Headquarters taskforce revealed.
“Competitive bidding is not only becoming a mere formality there, but the agency is leading collusive bidding,” said Masatoshi Akimoto, deputy head of the taskforce and a House of Representatives member. The taskforce brought the case to the Japan Fair Trade Commission to urge the government to improve the situation.
The taskforce examined projects, bidders, winning bidders and bid ratios – the percentages of the accepted bids against the scheduled prices – among other items in all 719 contracts worth 48.5 billion yen. Of them, 189 contracts were awarded at the scheduled prices. The bid ratio of 95% or higher suggests that collusive bidding is suspected to have taken place. JAEA’s bid ratio is exceptionally higher than in other sectors.
Of 719 contracts, 714 only had two bidders.
The JAEA’s ambiguous contract-awarding system has been seen as a problem for some time. Since April 2012, it has been posting on its website the contract names, contract prices, and contractors of projects awarded to affiliate organizations where its former senior officials are employed. However, the details were kept unknown and the LDP taskforce had been investigating the matter. (Abridged)