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Ex-Koizumi Aide Linked To Crime Syndicate
Benjamin Fulford, 06.24.04, 1:09 PM ET
TOKYO - A former close aide to Japan's prime minister admits to gangster links. Kiyoshi Takeuchi, the long-serving head of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's election committee, was a former crime gang member who kept company with Susumu Ishii, the now-deceased head of the Inagawa crime syndicate, according to the Japanese weekly magazine Friday.
Takeuchi told Friday he quit being a gangster when he was young but kept in touch with the head of the syndicate. "I was the first person other than family members to burn incense [in honor to Ishii's memory] at the funeral [in 1991]," he told the magazine.
Takeuchi, 80, ran Koizumi's election campaigns for ten straight terms before ceding the job to his son in 2001. The Inagawa crime syndicate allegedly runs illegal gambling, prostitution and extortion rings, among other things. It is based in Yokosuka, Koizumi's home district, and is estimated to have more than 8,000 members.
Takeuchi denies asking Ishii for help in elections, but noted, "He was the type of person who helped without being asked."
Senior ruling party politicians in Japan have often been involved in dealings with gangsters over the years. "It would be impossible for any politician to operate in Yokosuka without dealing with the Inagawa syndicate," a 35-year veteran of the Inagawa crime family told Forbes.
The top secretary to one of Japan's leading politicians told this reporter, who was dining with a senior member of the Yamaguchi Gumi crime syndicate, that his boss had to deal with gangsters in order to raise election funds. The gang boss told Forbes that most politicians had dealings with their local crime syndicates. The dealings include insider stock trading, purchase of land for use in public works, deals involving subcontracting of the labor involved, and help in keeping a lid on scandals, he said.
Eitaro Itoyama, a multi-billionaire and self-described bridge between politicians and gangsters, told Forbes that politicians usually dealt with their local yakuza syndicates.
Koizumi's grandfather, also a politician, was famous for sporting a full-body tattoo and showing it in Parliament. Tattoos are widely associated with membership in yakuza gangs in Japan.
"We have no comment to make," a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Koizumi's office told Forbes.
The new revelations may affect the chances of the ruling party in the Upper House elections scheduled for July 11. If so, it could usher in some political instability in Japan but ultimately result in a more reform-minded economic policy.