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.
In a new book, 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."© Japan Today