Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita admitted Friday the company involved in an insider stock scandal bought more than $150,000 in tickets to one of his fund-raising parties two years ago.
Friday also brought the first conviction in the case that has embarrassed the top ranks of politics and business for nine months. A former executive of the company was given an 18-month suspended sentence for trying to bribe a legislator.Takeshita's acknowledgement of what amounted to a large political donation from the Recruit Co., a data-distribution conglomerate, is certain to increase demands that he resign.
"I have confirmed there was a purchase of tickets for the fund-raising party," the prime minister said in response to questions from a Socialist member in a parliamentary budget committee meeting.
He also said the 20 million yen (about $151,000) Recruit Co. paid for tickets to the party in May 1987 was "slightly excessive," but he would not elaborate.
Gatherings of fellow politicians and business leaders are common in Japan, where politics and business are closely related. They are especially popular with the governing Liberal Democrats to get around laws restricting contributions.
Corporations often buy large numbers of tickets, but it is "quite unusual for one company to buy 20 million yen worth of tickets at once," Junichiro Koizumi, the health and welfare minister, told reporters Friday.