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Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Another architect fakes design strength

33 Sapporo buildings target of investigation


Staff writer

Five Sapporo condominium complexes have been confirmed to have been built with faked earthquake-resistance data, the land ministry said Tuesday, and the city is investigating 28 more buildings the architect who compiled the data has said are not sufficiently quake-proof.

News photo
Architect Ryoichi Asanuma tells reporters he faked quake-proof calculations.

The Sapporo Municipal Government will not disclose the names and locations of the five complexes because it has determined there is no immediate threat to the residents and it is still investigating, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

Ryoichi Asanuma, certified architect second-class, compiled the faked quake data for the five complexes.

Asanuma, who is based in Sapporo, has told city officials he faked quake resistance data on 33 buildings in Sapporo, and the city is now probing the remaining 28 sites, ministry officials said.

These are the first cases of falsification that do not involve architect Hidetsugu Aneha or Kimura Construction Co., involved in the construction of dozens of buildings with substandard quake-proofing nationwide, according to the ministry.

At a news conference Tuesday evening, Asanuma admitted modifying quake-resistance data for the buildings but denied he intentionally faked the data.

"I believe the buildings have sufficient quake resistance (structurally)," Asanuma said.

He also said there had been no pressure or instructions from prime contractors to falsify data.

According to the city, Asanuma told city officials that he began fabricating structural data for buildings around 1999.

The falsifications were confirmed by the Sapporo Municipal Government on March 2, according to the ministry, and it received the information Sunday.

The city claimed residents of the five complexes do not need to evacuate because none of the buildings has quake resistance below 50 percent of the required level -- the level at which people are ordered to leave immediately -- the ministry officials said.

The 47-year-old architect compiled quake-resistance data for 112 building projects, all in Hokkaido, according the ministry.

Asanuma, who began doing structural-data calculations in 1996, has worked for several principal design firms, municipal officials said. He began fabricating building data around 1999, according to the city. He has denied there was any pressure or requests from condo developers to fake the calculations. Those developers include several major real estate companies. None was identified.

Sapporo said it has asked the Japan Structural Consultants Association's Hokkaido branch to check the calculations on 16 of the 33 buildings in question, including the five confirmed cases of faked data, according to the ministry.

Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi hinted late Tuesday her government may file a criminal accusation.

"It is natural for us to take severe steps if violations are discovered," the governor told a news conference.

Sapporo Mayor Fumio Ueda said he regretted the city failed to discover the faked calculations and vowed the municipality will review its building inspection process.

Land minister Kazuo Kitagawa said the government needed to find out the facts of the case and the relationships between the parties involved and mete out severe punishment if necessary.

"Then the government needs to cooperate closely with Sapporo and Hokkaido to take thorough measures to prevent anxiety (that the buildings might collapse) from growing among the residents," Kitagawa said.

Information from Kyodo added



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