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Seismic code sidestepping starts major Japanese probe


THE JAPANESE government is set to inspect thousands of buildings after scores were found to have insufficient steel reinforcement in their support pillars, leaving them at severe risk of collapse during an earthquake.

The move follows the admission by a Japanese architect that he designed structures with weak foundations and falsified data to get them certified.

The architect Hidetsugu Aneha faces criminal charges after he admitted to getting round Japan's strict earthquake building codes by falsifying data on around 60 hotels and condominium complexes.

The Japanese government is reported to have ordered the buildings to be pulled down and rebuilt and residents were ordered to vacate their properties by the middle of last month.

The scandal has been blamed on building industry deregulation under which the building's architect is allowed to nominate a private inspector to certify that the structure meets building codes.

Since the legislation was passed in 1999, more than 100 private firms have been carrying out building certifi cation of an 400,000 plus buildings a year.

Experts are predicting that tens of thousands of buildings may have to be condemned if inspectors find that many more buildings have been passed as structurally sound.

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