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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Architect group to offer directory of highly trained members


Staff writer

A nationwide organization of architects will publicize later this month the names and addresses of architects who have taken training courses on the latest technologies and construction regulations, the group said Monday.

The Japan Federation of Architects & Building Engineers Associations said the move comes in response to a series of cases since November where the quake-resistance data of condominiums and hotels were found to have been fabricated, resulting in scores of shoddily built structures.

The group will provide the list of architects at its prefectural offices, so people wishing to buy condominiums or houses can check up on the parties designing the residences.

"Consumers should be able to choose architects they can trust," Masaya Fujimoto, the federation's vice chairman, told a news conference in Tokyo. "But the information for choosing (architects) has not been made sufficiently open to the public."

About 26,000 of the roughly 110,000 architects who belong to the federation are undergoing such training courses, the officials said, adding they will encourage more architects to follow suit. There are estimated to be about 500,000 architects in Japan.

Disgraced first-class architect Hidetsugu Aneha, who provided substandard earthquake-resistance data for dozens of buildings nationwide, and Ryoichi Asanuma, a second-class architect who compiled faked quake-resistance data for buildings in Sapporo, are not members of the federation and have not taken the training, the officials said.

The organization started providing the training, which it calls Continuing Professional Development, in November 2002.

The federation has also been certifying architects with such expertise as design and structural assessment. The names of the architects certified as having such expertise can be viewed on the federation's Web site, officials added.

Prison, fines in works

The infrastructure ministry said Monday it will seek a maximum one-year prison term and fines of up to 1 million yen for architects who have fabricated structural engineering data for buildings.

The provision will be included in a bill to revise the Architect Law, officials from the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry said.

The bill will be submitted to the current Diet session as one of the government's measures to prevent shoddy construction, such as the recently revealed fabrications of earthquake-resistance codes.

Other improper actions, including registered architects or their offices lending their names to others, will also be subject to these punishments, the officials said.

Under the Building Standards Law, those who fake documents for calculating structural engineering data are not held legally responsible unless a dangerous building is actually built or construction begins based on the fabricated data.

By revising the law to introduce punishments, including imprisonment, those found to have fabricated data on structural calculation sheets would be subject to liability before construction.



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