Japanese Banking Minister Dies

Matsushita’s death ruled a suicide by police

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Japanese flagFinancial Services Minister Tadahiro Matsushita of Japan, who was at the helm of the insider trading crackdown that brought down Nomura Holdings' top to executives, has died. His death was ruled a suicide by police.

Bloomberg reported that Matsushita, who assumed his post in June, had sworn to intensify the Financial Services Agency’s (FSA) investigation into the insider trading scandal and restore confidence in Japan’s stock market, which is the second largest in the world.

A spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department was cited saying that an emergency call was received after Matsushita’s wife found him at home, unconscious. He added that the police have concluded that Matsushita committed suicide and closed the investigation.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who appointed Matsushita, said in the report, “I was so shocked to hear this sad news. I’m lost for words. He always cheered me up during difficult times.”

Kenichi Watanabe, Nomura’s former CEO, and Takumi Shibata, its former COO, stepped down from their posts in July after the FSA found that employees leaked information on share sales managed by the firm. Last month Nomura, Japan’s largest brokerage, was ordered by the FSA to improve its compliance.

After a month as financial services minister, Matsushita requested that an advisory panel at his agency explore stiffer penalties for insider trading, including heftier fines for traders as well as disciplinary action against leakers of nonpublic information.

“It certainly would have put a lot of pressure on him if he’d taken the job too seriously instead of just letting the FSA bureaucracy guide him through the Nomura shoals,” said Jun Okumura in the report. Okumura is a senior adviser for the Eurasia Group consulting firm in Tokyo.

Matsushita was also looking into an application by state-backed Japan Post Bank Co. to begin retail and commercial lending next April. Moody’s Investors Service said only Monday that such a move would harm regional banks.

“The job is only half done,” Shiro Yoshioka, an analyst at Japaninvest Group Plc in Tokyo, said in the report, referring to the insider trading investigation. “His successor will need to scrutinize the issue further and make efforts to restore confidence.”

Hideaki Miyajima, who is a commerce professor at Waseda University specializing in corporate governance, was quoted saying, “This is a big loss for Japan’s financial industry. But I expect Japan’s financial regulatory framework will remain intact.”

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