Cabinet ministers held their first meeting July 22 to discuss problems related to “sokaiya” corporate extortionists, hoping to stem the scandals rocking Japan’s corporate and financial world.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama told a news conference after the meeting that the government will support firms that cut ties with sokaiya. He said the ministers hope a government resolution to solve the problem will push companies in that direction. Twelve ministries will promote the exchange of information and strengthen cooperation to tackle the issue, he said.

Katsuhiko Shirakawa, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, said during the meeting that the agency will increase measures to curb sokaiya. Measures to be discussed are expected to include revisions of the current legal framework to better watch over both corporations and racketeers.

Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka said his ministry will draft a bill to revise the Bank Law to strengthen penalty-related clauses and will submit the bill to the next Diet session. A bill to revise the Commercial Code will also be submitted to the next Diet session to make penalty-related clauses tougher, Justice Minister Isao Matsuura said.

The next Diet session is expected to be convened in late September. Trade chief Shinji Sato said the Ministry of International Trade and Industry will call on the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) to urge its affiliates to take a resolute attitude toward extortionists.

Detailed measures will be discussed by a working group to be formed by members of MITI, the Justice and Finance ministries and the National Public Safety Commission, Kajiyama said. The government’s move follows public anger over recent revelations of close relationships between the nation’s leading companies and sokaiya and payoffs the firms made to the extortionists.

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