Where is the Justice?
Media Attacks, Prosecutorial Abuse, and My 13 Years in Japanese Court
On June 18, 1988, the Asahi Shimbun daily newspaper carried a scoop: the information-industry company Recruit had allegedly bribed the deputy-mayor of Kawasaki city. Thus began the Recruit scandal and the nightmare for Hiromasa Ezoe, the company's founder and chairman. Established newspapers reported that Recruit—which had been growing steadily since it was founded in 1960—had transferred, to bureaucrats and ruling Liberal Democratic Party politicians, pre-listed shares of a Recruit subsidiary, Recruit Cosmos. Media reports cast Ezoe as a villain, even though the share transfers had been legal transactions. Detained by investigators from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, Ezoe underwent abusive interrogations based on untrustworthy, sensational reports by newspapers, TV news programs, and weekly magazines. With many prominent ruling party policymakers having accepted shares, the Takeshita cabinet resigned en masse in the following year. Meanwhile, Ezoe, physically and psychologically drained, agreed to sign interrogation records that he claims were fabricated by prosecutors. After his thirteen-year-long trial, he received a suspended sentence. Ezoe vividly presents a harsh criticism of the reported collusion between Japan's media and judiciary system. Referring to news articles and his original notes, and including facts he has been able to disclose after two decades, he highlights the irrational and malicious approach of the prosecutors. Many experts of Japanese contemporary politics see the Recruit scandal as marking a turning point from the years of the bubble economy that signaled the culmination of Japan's postwar prosperity, to the time when economic expansion came to a total halt, known as the "lost decade."
The prosecutors of the Recruit scandal forced Hiromasa Ezoe to sign a statement drawn up by the Prosecutors Office on the basis of a fabricated scenario. Abusive interrogations were conducted, with prosecutors yelling and forcing Ezoe to kneel and bow until his forehead touched the floor. The arrest of other company managers was threatened should he refuse to sign their statement. This is a stunning, true story of prosecutorial abuse in modern Japan. —Weekly Gendai For many of us it is incredible that the Prosecutors Office, famous for being as clean as the driven snow, could have been responsible for such "torture" in interrogations during the Recruit scandal. Lacking transparency as interrogations were conducted behind closed doors, the affair was "solved" by prosecutors, the accused were judged by the court, and citizens believed the case closed. The seeds of doubt the chronicle plants, regarding whether the case was properly conducted, propelled the book to the best-seller list right after publication. —Kyodo News Servic Hiromasa Ezoe was one of Japan's talented post-World War II businessmen. He founded Recruit Co., Ltd., when in his twenties and developed it into the country's largest information resource company. Using his gains to make financial contributions to lawmakers and top bureaucrats, he believed this would help advance Japan's business interests. However, while the media incited resentment of this business upstart, the Prosecutors Office put Ezoe through torturous interrogations, found him guilty of bribery, and forced him back from the front lines of business. As a sad postscript to the country's business ethic, the Recruit scandal may be one reason that few young Japanese today boast an entrepreneurial spirit and the nation's economy has been sluggish since the 1990s. —Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper
Caught in the jaws of Japan's justice system by JEFF KINGSTON http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fb20100926a1.html
About the Author
Hiromasa Ezoe was born in Osaka in 1936 and graduated in educational psychology from the University of Tokyo. While a student, he worked parttime on graduate recruitment advertising for The University of Tokyo Newspaper. After graduation, he continued this line of work for other university newspapers and, in 1960, established Daigaku Kokoku Co. Ltd., the predecessor of today's Recruit Co., Ltd. Initially, his new business model produced free magazines carrying only graduate recruitment ads. As Japan's economy expanded, Recruit became a major corporation, its ad publications covering employment, housing, travel, automobiles, and books. The Recruit scandal broke in June 1988, and Ezoe, then chairman, resigned the following July. The Recruit Group remained prosperous, however, and today operates in China and other markets, revenues exceeding one trillion yen and profit margins high. Recruit is also known for having capable alumni who have successfully founded their own businesses. Ezoe has sat on and chaired a number of committees in the private and public sectors, including the Curriculum Council of the Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau and University Education Council of the Higher Education Bureau, both under the Ministry of Education; the Japan Association of Corporate Executives; Japan Federation of Employers' Associations; Japan Opera Foundation; Japan Musical Education and Cultural Promotion Society; and International University of Japan. Today, Ezoe is chairman of the Ezoe Scholarship Society Foundation and director for La Voce Incorporated, which promotes opera and classical music performances. The Ezoe Scholarship Society Foundation awards grants to talented and motivated students in a variety of disciplines, including opera, instrumental performance, photography, and graphic design. The Ezoe Scholarship Society Foundation has awarded 536 scholarships to date.
Interview: Recruit founder revisits a scandal that shook the nation by JEFF KINGSTON http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100926x3.html