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The Supreme Court has turned down an appeal by Liberal Democratic Party legislator Takao Fujinami in the 1980s Recruit bribery scandal, finalizing a high court ruling that gave him a suspended jail term and a fine of 42.7 million yen, it was learned Thursday.

The decision by the petty bench of the top court finally settles a 10-year-long case in which Fujinami was first acquitted by the Tokyo District Court, and then found guilty in a reversal by the Tokyo High Court. The result had been conveyed to concerned parties by Thursday.

Fujinami, 66, is a Lower House member representing Mie Prefecture who served as chief Cabinet secretary in the administration of Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. However, despite the Supreme Court decision, Fujinami will retain his Diet seat.

A 1992 amendment to the Public Offices Election Law stipulates that a Diet member convicted of bribery must give up the seat. But the rule will not be applied to Fujinami because his bribery indictment came before the amendment.

Speaking to reporters aboard a train to his hometown of Ise, Mie Prefecture, Fujinami said he would consult his lawyers and supporters before making a decision on whether to step down as lawmaker.

Fujinami accepted a total of 42.7 million yen in bribes between 1984 and 1986 from Recruit Co., a major job information service company, in the form of checks and preflotation shares in the firm’s real estate subsidiary.

Supporting the high court decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the money was intended to reward Fujinami’s efforts — requested by then Recruit Chairman Hiromasa Ezoe — to make sure that government ministries would respect a private-sector agreement on when to start annual recruitment of university graduates.

At that time, business circles were suggesting that the agreement be scrapped, a move that could have negatively affected Recruit’s job information business.

At issue in the trial, which began in December 1989, was whether a chief Cabinet secretary had power over the recruitment of government employees.

The presiding Supreme Court justice, Motoo Ono, ruled that the hiring of bureaucrats is within the jurisdiction of the chief Cabinet secretary because it concerns administration of the state.

Also being debated in the court proceedings was whether Fujinami had recognized the stocks and the checks as bribes — a question on which the earlier two courts handed down different decisions.

In September 1994, the Tokyo District Court acquitted Fujinami of the bribery charge, citing doubts about whether he had received specific requests from Ezoe for help. It also concluded that Fujinami did not appear to have recognized the stocks and the checks as bribes.

However, the Tokyo High Court, in a March 1997 decision, ruled that it was obvious that Fujinami realized the gifts from Recruit were bribes. It gave the lawmaker a three-year prison term, suspended for four years.

The top court decision puts Ezoe, 63, in a difficult position. He is still being tried by the Tokyo District Court, and the protracted proceedings are expected to take a few more years.

The Recruit scandal shook Japan’s political circles and eventually led to the fall of the administration of Noboru Takeshita in 1989.

In the scandal, many influential lawmakers of the LDP as well as some opposition leaders were found to have received preflotation shares of Recruit Cosmos, a company whose value was strongly expected to rise once it went public.

A total of 12 people were indicted, including Diet members, elite bureaucrats and top executives of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. Eight of them have been convicted, including former NTT chairman Hisashi Shindo.

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