TOKYO (AFP) — A Japanese court on Wednesday sentenced a former top defence official to two-and-a-half years in prison over a bribery scandal that embarrassed the government.
Takemasa Moriya, 64, who was nicknamed "the emperor" for his influence within the defence ministry until he retired last year, was also ordered to pay 12.5 million yen (126,000 dollars) in penalties, a court spokesman said.
The Tokyo District Court ruled the former vice defence minister had accepted 12.5 million yen from a military contractor between 2003 and 2007 in the form of golf trips and 3.6 million yen deposited in his family's bank accounts.
The chief government spokesman denounced the crime.
"It is outrageous and extremely regrettable that a person who served as the top defence bureaucrat was mired in this bribery case," Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told reporters.
Presiding judge Minoru Uemura accused Moriya of lacking morals.
"He built nothing but a collusive relationship and granted favours," the judge said, as quoted by Jiji Press.
Moriya, who was the top bureaucrat at the defence ministry, was also found guilty of perjury for giving false testimony as a sworn witness in parliament last year before his arrest. He is appealing against the verdict.
The contractor involved in the corruption, Motonobu Miyazaki, 70, was sentenced to two years in prison.
Moriya admitted taking bribes but his defence counsel sought a suspended term, saying he had never hurt Japan's national interests.
Repeated scandals at the defence ministry have been a headache for the government.
A naval officer training for an elite counter-intelligence unit died in September after being forced to kick-box with 15 other men at once in what was apparently a ritual at the base.
Prime Minister Taro Aso also came under pressure this week to clarify his own position on Japan's colonial past after his government sacked the air force chief for saying Japan was not a World War II aggressor.
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