Japanese prosecutors arrested a second former high government official Tuesday in a bribery scandal that is generating pressure on Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita to resign.
The arrest of Kunio Takaishi, former vice minister of education, coincided with formal charges being filed against Takashi Kato, a former vice minister of labor who was arrested March 8.
The two are the highest ranking public officials to be arrested in the case. Both were accused of receiving bribes in the form of bargain-priced shares for using their influence to benefit Recruit Co., an information conglomerate. Both left office before the scandal surfaced last July.
13th Arrest in Scandal
Takaishi’s arrest was the 13th in the scandal, which has shaken confidence in Takeshita’s administration. Recent public opinion polls put support for Takeshita’s government at less than 13%.
Takaishi, 59, is charged with having helped Recruit executives get appointed to government committees dealing with education.
Kato, also 59, was accused of influencing a ministry decision not to impose stricter regulations on employment information magazines in 1984. He retired as a vice minister in September, 1987.
Recruit’s main business is publishing specialized magazines on job placement, giving it a strong interest in education and labor policy.
Opposition parties are demanding that Takeshita resign and call new elections to let the people judge the Recruit scandal. Takeshita has vowed to stay on and work for political reforms that would restore public trust in government.
About 700,000 bargain shares in Recruit’s real estate subsidiary, Recruit-Cosmos Co., reportedly were offered by the founder and former chairman of Recruit, Ezoe Hiromasa, and his aides to more than 150 influential people.
Prosecutors say Takaishi was sold 10,000 shares in Recruit-Cosmos at a cut-rate price in 1986 and profited by about $90,000 when over-the-counter trading in the stock began and its price soared.
Kato bought 3,000 unlisted shares and reportedly made about $45,450 when the stock was publicly listed, prosecutors said.