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Finance Minister Appologizes Over Stock Scandal

October 17, 1988

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan’s finance minister apologized Monday in Parliament for his involvement in an insider stock trading scandal that has provoked a major debate over political ethics and delayed passage of a controversial tax bill.

Responding to questioning by opposition parties, Kiichi Miyazawa said he was unaware a former aide, Tsuneo Hattori, had allowed a friend to buy 10,000 shares of Recruit-Cosmos Co. stock in Miyazawa’s name.

Miyazawa, the first Cabinet minister linked directly to the Recruit-Cosmos scandal, did not offer to resign but expressed regret for his involvement.

″I was truly careless,″ Miyazawa said. ″I’m sorry for failing to supervise well.″

Parliament remained stalemated Monday by opposition demands for a full investigation into the Recruit-Cosmos scandal. Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, also said he had been ″careless.″ But he described the scandal as part of a larger problem arising from laws regulating financial dealings, tax administration and political ethics.

Several senior politicians reportedly obtained shares in the real estate company in 1984 before the stock was offered to the public. The stock nearly quadrupled in value shortly after it was listed on the over-the-counter market, and the politicians made up to $780,000 each in profits.

Miyazawa admitted in Parliament last week that his aides had bought the shares in his name, reversing earlier denials of his involvement. But he said he had no previous knowledge of the dealings.

Last week, the Japan Communist Party released a list of nine people, including Miyazawa, who allegedly purchased the shares through a financial firm linked to Recruit-Cosmos. The list also included aides to Prime Minister Takeshita, former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and Shintaro Abe, secretary general of the governing Liberal Democratic Party.

The dealings raised serious ethical questions but broke no laws in Japan, where companies have routinely given politicians stock certain to increase in value as political contributions. Parliament has since tightened laws involving such transactions, but the legislation is not retroactive.

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