Bribe-taker Fujinami may run in election

Kyodo

Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Takao Fujinami, who was convicted in the Recruit stocks-for-favor bribery scandal in the 1980s, has said he may seek re-election in the upcoming election to the House of Representatives, his supporters said Thursday.

“There may be many views as to me running for the election, yet I cannot help but join the electoral race,” Fujinami, an independent member of the Lower House, was quoted by his supporters as saying.

He said he will put off to a later date an official announcement on whether or not he will run. The election is expected in late June.

Fujinami, a former member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was convicted of accepting bribes from Recruit Co., a Tokyo-based job information conglomerate. He later quit the LDP.

In March 1997, the Tokyo High Court sentenced the lawmaker to three years in prison, suspended for four years, and fined him 42.7 million yen — the amount he received in bribes in the form of checks and unlisted stocks from August 1984 to September 1986.

The Supreme Court rejected his appeal in October last year.

The Recruit scandal, which surfaced in June 1988, toppled the Cabinet of Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita and led to the resignations of several noted politicians, civil servants, businessmen and journalists to whom Recruit had sold lucrative unlisted shares at low prices.

Other contenders for Fujinami’s seat in the No. 5 district in Mie Prefecture include Democratic Party of Japan candidate Takeshi Yamamura and Kiyoharu Kuroki of the Japanese Communist Party.

Tatsuo Ozawa to retire

NIIGATA (Kyodo) Lower House member Tatsuo Ozawa, who heads Kaikaku Club, said Thursday he will not run in the upcoming general election and will retire from politics.

Ozawa, 83, told a news conference in Niigata Prefecture that he wants to retire from politics while he is still healthy and energetic.

Ozawa also said Kaikaku Club will not be disbanded despite his retirement. He expressed hope that Kunio Hatoyama, former deputy leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, will take over Kaikaku Club’s leadership.

Kaikaku Club, which has formed a bloc with New Komeito in the Diet, has five Lower House members and one House of Councilors member.

Hatoyama, whose brother Yukio Hatoyama heads the DPJ, quit the opposition party to run in the Tokyo gubernatorial election in April last year. He has not come back to politics since he lost to Shintaro Ishihara in the election.

Ozawa has been elected to the Lower House 13 times since 1960. He has served as health and welfare minister, construction minister, environment agency chief, and secretary general of a Liberal Democratic Party faction headed by the late former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka.

In 1993, Ozawa left the LDP with Ichiro Ozawa, current leader of the Liberal Party, and other politicians and joined Shinshinto, which was launched in December 1994 and disbanded in December 1997.

Immediately after Shinshinto’s dissolution, Tatsuo Ozawa set up Kaikaku Club with 10 other legislators, aiming to reassemble non-LDP members. The party, however, joined hands with the LDP last October after New Komeito joined a coalition government with the LDP and the Liberal Party.