Chief of Nomura steps down . . . again

The president of Nomura Securities Co., the nation’s top brokerage, resigned Mar. 14 over the widening scandal caused by the company’s illicit business practices on behalf of a firm run by a relative of a former “sokaiya” corporate extortionist.

Nomura President Hideo Sakamaki and Chairman Masashi Suzuki told a Tokyo news conference that Sakamaki has stepped down and that the chairman will serve concurrently as president and try to recover public trust and establish a system to prevent a recurrence of illicit trading. The announcement follows the company’s disclosure last week that two of its directors were involved in illicit deals that reportedly provided millions of yen in profits to a real estate firm run by a relative of the unidentified former sokaiya. The two directors — Shinpei Matsuki and Nobutaka Fujikura — resigned Mar. 10.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka indicated Mar. 14 that three of the Big Four securities firms are also being investigated for allegedly conducting illegal deals with the same firm. Media reports named Daiwa Securities Co., Nikko Securities Co. and Yamaichi Securities Co. as those being investigated.

Sakamaki became Nomura president in June 1991, after former Chairman Setsuya Tabuchi and former President Yoshihisa Tabuchi stepped down to take responsibility for a similar scandal that involved four major securities companies paying compensation to major investors for stock trading losses. Suzuki said the two unrelated men, who had been serving as directors to the firm after resigning from the posts of chairman and president, would resign and become advisers.

Sakamaki, who will become a counselor after he steps down, said it is a pity he has to resign before the government begins initiating its “Big Bang” reform of the financial system, which is aimed at strengthening the international presence of the Japanese market. But Suzuki said he does not believe this incident will have any effect on the government’s reform efforts.