In a revelation that could topple his government, Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita acknowledged today that the company at the center of a stock-trading scandal bought $151,000 worth of tickets for a fund-raising party for him two years ago.
Takeshita’s statement that he received what amounts to sizable political donations from the Recruit Co. is certain to increase pressure on him and his Cabinet to step down.
“I have confirmed there was a purchase of tickets for the fund-raising party,” Takeshita said in response to questions in an Upper House budget committee session.
Takeshita acknowledged the amount of money Recruit Co. paid for tickets to the May, 1987, party was “slightly excessive,” but he refused to elaborate.
Such fund-raising parties are common among politicians and are a way of sidestepping legal restrictions on political donations.
Corporations often buy a large number of tickets to show their support for politicians. But it is “quite unusual for one company to buy 20 million yen ($151,000) worth of tickets at once,” Health and Welfare Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters.
It was not immediately clear if Recruit’s ticket purchases would be considered outright political donations and thus subject to restrictions.
An official of the Ministry of Home Affairs, which regulates political donations, said the purchases would be legal “as long as the price of each ticket is within the range of common sense and the number of tickets purchased is within a reasonable limit that a company can possibly use.”
Recruit, an information conglomerate, sold unlisted shares in a subsidiary at bargain prices in late 1986 to about 150 influential politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen, allowing them to profit handsomely when public trading began and the shares soared in price.