National

Takenaka sibling rallied Misawa Homes' support

Executives at subsidiaries of Misawa Homes Holdings Inc., a financially troubled recipient of huge loans from UFJ Holdings Inc., had their employees assist the campaigning of Financial Services Minister Heizo Takenaka, who was elected to the House of Councilors in Sunday’s election, according to his older brother.

The assistance included putting up some 5,000 Takenaka campaign posters at various locations throughout the country, according to the brother, a senior operating officer of Misawa Homes Holdings who was not named.

The aid was provided after the brother asked Misawa Homes President Kazuo Mizutani to approve a request that he muster help from Misawa Homes group companies.

Under the Public Offices Election Law, it is not illegal for a Cabinet minister to receive aid from a company under his ministry’s supervisory jurisdiction as long as the aid is not linked to the minister’s regulatory authority over the firm.

But as minister in charge of the Financial Services Agency, which oversees UFJ Bank and other banks, the revelation may stir controversy because Takenaka received the help at a time when the appropriateness of rehabilitating UFJ’s major corporate borrowers is under close scrutiny.

Takenaka himself said: “I understand that my elder brother was doing me a favor as a brother. If this has induced misunderstanding, then the blame lies with me.”

Takenaka’s brother, who is also president of one of the Misawa Homes subsidiaries, said he obtained Mizutani’s consent in mid-June for him to call on 10 presidents and other executives of the subsidiaries to provide help in putting up the posters.

It was in mid-June when Takenaka decided to seek an Upper House seat on the proportional representation ticket of the Liberal Democratic Party after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi asked him to run in the race.

Misawa Homes group companies then had their employees put up posters at their branch offices across the nation as well as at employees’ homes.

In addition, the elder brother attended morning assemblies of four of the Misawa Homes subsidiaries to appeal for their employees to help Takenaka win the Diet seat.

Some executives from the group companies went to Takenaka’s campaign offices to provide another type of help — writing the names and addresses of voters on postcards asking them to vote for Takenaka.

When large numbers of posters were mailed to the group’s subsidiaries, some in the group questioned the appropriateness of providing such political assistance.

But Mizutani, a former UFJ Bank official who assumed the presidency of Misawa Homes in last December, told group executives that Takenaka’s brother was seeking help in a private capacity and not as the result of company policy to help Takenaka.

Takenaka won a seat in Sunday’s poll by garnering 722,505 votes — the largest number for an LDP proportional representation candidate.

Asked to comment on the revelation Tuesday morning, Koizumi said: “People are free to support candidates in elections. I don’t see any problem (if the Misawa Home employees) voluntarily supported (Takenaka’s campaign).”

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