Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita Friday said the company at the center of a stock-trading scandal bought $151,000 worth of tickets for a fund-raising party of his two years ago.
Also Friday, the first conviction in the scandal, which has led to the resignations of three Cabinet members, was handed down.Takeshita's acknowledgement that he received what amounts to sizable political donations from the Recruit Co. was 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.
Large corporatins often buy a large number of party 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.