Thursday, November 29, 2007

Moriya's bribery, Japan's Lockheed syndrome!

I played golf more than 200 times with defense contractors, what's wrong with that?

[Moriya grilled at Japanese Diet]

During World War I, in 1915, at the Parliament in Paris, French president Raymond Poincaré said in a message to elected representatives: "Soldiers Devotion Reflects People's Spirit". Today, adjusting our focus on current events, it appears that Moriya scandal is neither an extraordinary demonstration of patriotism nor a strong indication of the unanimity of all defense personal and high ranking officials; the risk is to diminish every faith and shade of political belief of the Japanese military personal and citizens.

Former top Defense Ministry bureaucrat Takemasa Moriya and his wife were arrested Wednesday for accepting bribes from a former executive of a defense contractor, prosecutors said. Moriya's fall, is he the only involved? Not from judging from his surroundings. Moriya held various posts in the defense ministry and was vice defense minister from August 2003 to August this year. He took bribes from defense contractors, also linked are American defense companies. What exists behind this new scandal that some people compare to the Lockheed scandal of 1976? I'd like to hear short time Defense minister Koike Yuriko who in summer had a hard time to try to fire Moriya, How unthankful she was kicked out by Fukuda administration.

Interview Koike Yuriko about the Moriya scandal, published Oct 31 in Shukan. Quotes:

Q. Shukan "The guy whom you fought is now accused of having improper ties with a defense trading company.

A. Koike I think I was right to change the personnel system in the Defence Ministry. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and defense officials recently told me that if Moriya were still in power, the Defense Ministry would have even more trouble. They thanked me for kicking him out, but it was not soon enough, I guess.

Q. Shukan Did you kick him out because you knew of his scandals?

A. Koike I had heard rumors about Moriya's collusion with corporations before. A Shukan Post article about him published on August reminded me of the Okamitsu case (*). However, I didn't have any evidence to accuse him at that time. Now it's all becoming public. Duringmy tenure, I was mainly concerned with plugging leaks of high-level military information from inside the ministry. I thought th ebest way to do that would be to reform the ministerial structure. That's why I moved Moriya out. I think my decision was right."

For the time being facts from local news are that Japanese prosecutors arrested former Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya on suspicion he accepted bribes from Motonobu Miyazaki, former executive of defense contractor Yamada Corp. who was charged with embezzlement. Moriya has admitted going on golf trips, paid for by Yamada Corp., which violated defense ministry ethical rules. He had denied doing any favors for defense equipment traders over procurement of U.S. engines for the next-generation CX aircraft despite admitting to having kept "inappropriately" cozy ties with Japanese businessmen.

"It's extremely regrettable that the arrest may cause the public to lose trust in Japan's defenses,'' Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said. "We must promote reform of the defense ministry so this will never happen again.'' As always, but never realized. Moriya said in testimony to parliament on Oct. 29 he played golf more than 200 times in 11 years until April this year with Miyazaki.

Under ethics rules introduced in 2000, defense ministry officials are banned from playing golf with contractors. Moriya told legislators he often took his wife, used false names and paid golf fees that were lower than normal to Miyazaki. Moriya and his wife Sachiko Moriya accepted golf trips worth 3.89 million yen ($36,000) at courses in Hokkaido from Miyazaki as rewards for "carrying out favors" on Yamada's behalf for the procurement and delivery of defense equipment, the prosecution statement said.

[Ex Vice Minister of Japanese Defense Agency Takemasa Moriya (R) and Chinese PLA Assistant to the Chief of General Staff Zhang Qinsheng, Tokyo, Nov. 2006]

Japanese endemic corruption? Not more than anywhere else, so, is it linked to the post war history? Here is what Hokkaido university Professor Yamaguchi Jiro has to say:

(Photo from FCCJ Kobayashi Michiyo)

"The postwar policy system combined evils such as endemic corruption, inefficiency and waste, with a concern for equality and for the weak and the regions. Koizumi's structural reforms smashed the 'vested rights' of politicians and bureaucrats and promoted policy efficiency; but they also had a serious impact on people and regions that had enjoyed protection under the policies in place until then. Resistance to this continues to threaten the LDP. The opposition is gathering popular support by persistently questioning the harmful effects of the structural reforms. Faced with the contradictory vectors of inheriting the Koizumi government's success or correcting its evils, the LDP is irresolute. There is no clear-cut course for post-Koizumi politics."
(Statement in November issue of the journal Ronza. Yamaguchi Jiro is Professor of Public Administration at the Graduate School of Law, Hokkaido University).

Next? Based on the parliament political blockade ingeniously set by opposition leader Ozawa Ichiro, the question is to know if a general election ought to clear the situation. This is the question I asked to LDP Chief and Prime Minister Fukuda and to ex-LDP chief candidate Aso Taro, as seen on NHK TV and commercial TV channels, here is my quote published in the Japanese daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun:


One last word quoted from Shisaku blog:

"In his heart and mind, Moriya Takemasa did not only believe he was not guilty of any wrongdoing, he believed himself not even guilty of demonstrating poor judgment in creating the appearance of wrongdoing.It almost certainly never crossed his mind."

NB: What was Japan Lockheed bribery scandals? (Click the title to access archives)

Quotes: "The Lockheed Scandal of 1976 involved political donations paid by the American aircraft manufacturer Lockheed to Japanese and other politicians in return for aid in selling planes to various purchasers, including the Japanese All Nippon Airways. The scandal forced the Japanese prime minister Tanaka Kakuei, who received a donation of US $3 million, to resign. In the Netherlands, the "Lockheed scandal" related to the purchase of F-104G Starfighters for the airforce in which Prince Bernhard was implicated in charges of receiving bribes from Lockheed in order to ensure the aircraft would win out over the Mirage V for the purchase contract". (In Encyclopedia of Modern Asia)

"The Lockheed bribery scandals encompassed a series of illegal bribes and contributions made by Lockheed officials from the late 1950s to the 1970s. In late 1975 and early 1976, a sub-committee of the U.S. Senate led by Senator Frank Church concluded that members of the Lockheed board had paid members of friendly governments to guarantee contracts for military aircraft[3]. In 1976, it was publicly revealed that Lockheed had paid $22 million in bribes to foreign officials[4] in the process of negotiating the sale of aircraft including the F-104 Starfighter, the so-called "Deal of the Century".

The scandal caused considerable political controversy in West Germany, the Netherlands and Japan. In the U.S. the scandal nearly led to the ailing corporation's downfall, as it was already struggling due to the commercial failure of the L-1011 airliner. Trading firm Marubeni, sizing up the situation, informed Lockheed that a front door approach had a very low probability of success and advised that surreptitious strategies ought to be considered. Lockheed turned to its in-house covert specialist, Yoshio Kodama, for ideas.

Kodama had been a secret agent for Lockheed since 1969 and had helped the firm with a number of military sales to Japan. He was the long-standing Kuromaku of the Hatoyama-Kishi side of domestic politics".
(Click the title to access the full story of Steven Hunziker and Ikuro Kamimura.)

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Well, er, I'd say: It is a systematic risk...

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