Panel set to investigate KEPCO as chairman resigns

The Chairman of Kansai Electric Power Company has bowed to pressure over a cash-and-gift scandal. Makoto Yagi stepped down on Wednesday to take responsibility for the affair.

Yagi told a news conference: "The situation has caused our company to lose public trust and created enormous trouble. We have reached the decision that the president and I should step down -- to clarify management's responsibility."

The KEPCO board approved Yagi's resignation at an extraordinary meeting.

President Shigeki Iwane will stay in his post for the duration of an independent investigation into the scandal. Once it is complete, he will also resign.

KEPCO says the independent panel of 4 lawyers will report the results of its investigation in late December and the company will disclose them immediately.

The utility says Yagi and Iwane are among 20 executives and other employees who accepted some 3 million dollars' worth of cash and gifts, which included shopping vouchers and gold coins.

The offerings came from Eiji Moriyama, the late former deputy mayor of Takahama Town in Fukui Prefecture.

The town is home to one of the utility's nuclear plants.
Yagi and Iwane both initially said they had no intention of resigning.