The Scandal That Could Really Rock Japanese Politics

From the Lockheed Corp. mess of the 1970s to the Recruit debacle of the 1980s, Japanese political scandals seem to bloom and fade as regularly as cherry blossoms. They may lead to the ouster of prime ministers, but Japan's political decision-making machinery has been dominated by powerful kingpins who aren't hampered by such upsets. So, on the surface at least, the latest tempest seems typical. Tokyo Sagawa Kyubin Co., a trucking company whose ex-president has been linked to organized crime, is rumored to have funneled $4 billion to officials, including some $25 million to a dozen top politicians. Public hearings are expected to begin on Sept. 22.

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