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Iheya mayor resigns; promises to pay vendor

Date Posted: 2008-12-31

The beleaguered mayor of tiny Iheya Island has tossed in the towel and resigned over his role in a waste management treatment contract dispute that wound up with the village owing a Tokyo vendor ¥168 million.

Shinsuke Nishime has been listening to villagers call for his resignation, as well as demands he be responsible for paying the court-ordered judgment to Technology Institute of Tokyo. Iheya Village made a contract with Technology Institute to operate a waste treatment incinerator plant serving the 1,400-population village, but Nishime disregarded the contract and made his own deal with another company to run the plant.

Technology Institute confiscated all equipment at the facility, then sued the village. The court agreed Technology Institute was the legal operator for the Iheya plant, and ordered the village to pay ¥168 million in damages. Iheya Village unsuccessfully appealed the decision, saying it didn’t have the money to pay.

That’s when village residents rose up and began demanding Nishime both resign and be responsible for the court judgment payment, since it was his action that caused it. The resignation decision came after villagers scheduled a public meeting to demand Nishime explain his actions.

“I take the fact very seriously, and I feel sorry for the village people,” Nishime says. “I will apologize to everybody, and I will pay the damages by myself.” He says he will make the payments as soon as possible, as “in this case, everything is my responsibility. I resign as mayor and will start from scratch.”

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