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Pressure on Japanese architects intensifies as earthquake data scandal deepens

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Japanese police yesterday searched offices and homes at more than 100 locations in the country in connection with an architectural scandal that has left dozens of homes and hotels vulnerable to earthquakes.

The scandal surrounds work by architect Hidetsugu Aneha, who faces possible criminal charges for falsifying quake-resistance data for at least 82 buildings - mostly apartment blocks and hotels - to make them appear to meet safety regulations ( Japanese architect admits fiddling earthquake regs data).

He claims that he came under intense pressure from developers to fake the documents as a way of cost-cutting on the projects.

The controversy has left the entire Japanese architectural profession under severe scrutiny. For example 93 per cent of respondents to a survey from the Asahinewspaper said they suspected that buildings designed by other architects might have been built with falsified data.

The public's interest is exacerbated by the fact that the country accounts for about 20 per cent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 on the Richter Scale or greater.

And this scrutiny has now reached the Japanese parliament. 'Public confidence in building has been drastically shaken,' infrastructure minister Kazuo Kitagawa told a parliamentary panel on Wednesday.

'What is most important is to win public confidence by resolving the problem,' he added.

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