Architect faces charges over bogus data

A Japanese architect who was under pressure to build cheaply and quickly is facing criminal charges after he reportedly faked data about the structural soundness of 21 buildings, 13 of which could now collapse in the event of earthquake.

The architect, Hidetsugu Aneha, has sent tremors through the heart of the Japanese public who once believed their most impressive national structures were ‘earthquake proof,’ thanks to guidelines introduced in the aftermath of the devastating Kobe quake.

The death of 6,500 people triggered a batch of building regulations designed to safeguard Japan from its most likely natural disaster, but now the rules have been breached prompting authorities to take legal action.

According to the FT, a host of other potentially unsafe buildings could emerge in the coming weeks, as Aneha worked on the planning of 194 other buildings since 1996, including apartments, steel structures and temples.

Japanese broadcasts covering the revelations, which were exposed after a government check of Aneha’s 21 projects, have shown tearful residents fleeing the buildings that now need to be rebuilt.

The country’s land ministry believes 13 of the 21 buildings the architect worked on could collapse, if an earthquake strikes with the intensity of upper 5 on the country’s seismic scale of 7.

The ministry is also reportedly considering taking similar legal action against a construction company and other architectural firms contracted to build the 13 structures, under the country’s Real Estate Law or the Building Standard Law, according to Japanese press agencies.

Officials said these firms should shoulder “a lot of the responsibility” for selecting Aneha as the chief architect for their project, adding that the companies in question “must have acted together” in order to falsify the structural integrity data.

Speaking on Friday to Japanese reporters, Aneha admitted to creating bogus data during his assignments because he was under pressure to finish the buildings before the deadline.

“I had many complicated jobs. I wanted to make those jobs less complicated,” he said.

“In order to finish the work, I had no choice but to falsify the documents. I regret it now.”

According to Japan’s Mainichi news portal, the 48-year-old added his surprise when a private inspection office gave the green light to his falsified data.

 

24th November 2005

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