A former secretary to Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita Thursday joined the list of top political aides who reportedly made questionable stock dealings in a scandal spreading through the ranks of business and politics.

Takeshita told reporters Thursday that one of his former secretaries, Ihei Aoki, earned profits by trading the shares of the real estate company Recruit-Cosmos.

He said Aoki obtained shares from the company then sold them shortly after it went public in 1986, when Takeshita was finance minister.

The dealings were not illegal, but the revelations were on the front pages of almost all Japanese newspapers today and critics said the case highlights questionable ethics in the links between Japan's politicians and businessmen.