FSA’s Matsushita Pledges to Crack Down on Japan Insider Trading

Japan's Newly Named Financial Services Minister Matsushita
Tadahiro Matsushita, Japan's newly-named financial services and postal reform minister. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Japan’s newly appointed Financial Services Minister Tadahiro Matsushita pledged to deepen his agency’s investigation into insider trading that has undermined confidence in the country’s financial markets.

“We just can’t overlook” the issue, Matsushita, 73, said at a press conference in Tokyo late yesterday after he was named as part of a Cabinet reshuffle. “We need to strictly deal with this, while continuing to investigate cases.”

Matsushita will take over examinations by the Financial Services Agency and its watchdog arm, the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission, into information leaks ahead of share sales including Nippon Sheet Glass Co., Inpex Corp., Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. The SESC is also probing underwriters of the stock offerings.

He will seek to rebuild sentiment also damaged by corporate scandals including Olympus Corp.’s accounting fraud and AIJ Investment Advisors Co.’s concealment of more than $1 billion in pension fund losses. Japan’s Topix Index plunged to the lowest level since 1983 yesterday, entering a bear market after disappointing U.S. jobs and China services data added to evidence the global economy is slowing.

Matsushita pledged to avoid a repeat of the AIJ case, which spurred authorities to conduct checks on 265 Japanese fund managers in March.

Japan is unlikely to further extend a moratorium on loan repayments by small businesses that’s set to expire next March, Matsushita told reporters at the briefing.

The Lower House lawmaker replaces Shozaburo Jimi. Both are members of the People’s New Party, a junior member of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s coalition government. Noda changed his Cabinet to win backing for a doubling of Japan’s sales tax.

Most recently, Matsushita was senior vice minister for economy, trade and industry, and vice minister for Japan’s reconstruction agency formed following the record earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. He graduated from Kyoto University with a degree in agriculture.