Chapter 4: ANTEN continued

The Lockheed Scandal

To most of the world, Lockheed was a large aerospace corporation that had come to symbolize the U.S. Space Shuttle Program. In Japan, such a definition was not only incidental but inaccurate. In the U.S., Lockheed was a political sports event that surpassed imagination. It was a test of strength Kakuei Tanaka versus Japan. For the Japanese Government, it was a refusal to admit that a single individual had risen above the justice system. For Tanaka, it was the supreme test of his power and a refusal to allow his place in history to be tarnished by an ungrateful nation. For the society, it was an embarrassingly even contest.
Originally, the Lockheed story was a simple one that, like the definition of Lockheed, got lost along the way. It went like this: in the latter half of the 1960s, Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) were faced with a ballooning demand for their services. Both companies began to draw up plans to introduce large-body aircraft. ANA, fearing it would lose out to the government-owned JAL, bribed the Transport Minister (Tomisaburo Hashimoto) and Parliamentary Vice Transport Minister (Takayuki Sato). They gleefully obstructed JAL's requests for purchase of large aircraft. The delay gave ANA a chance to catch up and to open bids to foreign producers.

Three major U.S. corporations entered the race, each represented by an elephantine sogo shosha (trading company). McDonald Douglas, through Mitsui, attempted to sell its DC-10; Boeing, through Nissho Iwai, tried to sell its 747; and Lockheed, through Marubeni, wanted to sell its TriStar at $30 million per plane.

In this competition, Lockheed was the dark horse for two reasons. First, its sogo shosha, Marubeni, didn't carry the same up-front degree of clout as did the other two. Marubeni was small by comparison. Second, despite the fact that TriStar was a fine plane, Lockheed had an inferior track record with large aircraft when viewed against McDonald Douglas or Boeing.
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.)
From this point, the story took shape. The cast as it existed in 1972, was as follows:

1.Lockheed
*A.C. Kotchian, President of Lockheed Corporation
*John W. Clutter, Lockheed Tokyo Office Chief
*Yoshio Kodama, Lockheed secret agent

2.Marubeni
*Hiro Hiyama, President of Marubeni
*Toshiharu Okubo, Managing Director of Marubeni
*Hiroshi Itoh, Managing Director under Okubo
*Kunimitsu Nomiyama, minor employee in Hiyama's office
*Katsuhiro Matsuoka, Itoh's chauffeur

3.Prime Minister's Office
*Kakuei Tanaka, Prime Minister of Japan
*Toshio Enomoto, Tanaka's political secretary
*Mieko Enomoto, Enomoto's wife later divorced
*Masanori Kasahara, Tanaka's personal chauffeur at Mejiro
*Kenji Osano, Tanaka's friend and major shareholder in ANA and JAL

4.ANA (All Nippon Airways)
*Tokuji Wakasa, President of ANA
*Naoji Watanabe, Vice President of ANA

The story proceeded as Kodama, a secret service agent for Lockheed, advised Lockheed-Marubeni to make contact with Kenji Osano. Osano pondered the dilemma for a $200,000[76] consultant's fee and advised Marubeni to enlist the Prime Minister's assistance in making a direct appeal to ANA President Wakasa. Marubeni President, Hiyama, decided that 500 million yen[77] ($7.53 million) would be sufficient incentive for Tanaka's help. Hiyama then sent Okubo, Marubeni Managing Director, to see A.C. Kotchian, Lockheed President, about the plan to offer the Prime Minister of Japan a thank-you gift if he would represent their interest with ANA. Kotchian accepted the idea and Okubo relayed the consent to Hiyama.
On August 23, 1972, Hiyama went to see Tanaka at Mejiro and offered him the 500 million yen to urge ANA to buy TriStars. Tanaka gave Hiyama the "Yossha, yossha" (Okay, okay!) and all wheels were set in motion.
Tanaka spoke to ANA President Wakasa, while Osano convinced Vice President Watanabe. On October 30, about two months after Hiyama's initial visit with Tanaka, ANA announced that it had awarded Lockheed the contract. McDonald Douglas and Boeing lost.

The Prime Minister, having kept his part of the bargain, then pressed Hiyama to pay up. Hiyama and his team went to see Kotchian. Kotchian forwarded the funds to Clutter, Lockheed Tokyo Office Chief. Clutter told Hiyama that the money had arrived and Hiyama dispatched office worker Nomiyama to Lockheed to pick up the money on three separate occasions.

Next Hiyama told Okubo to tell Itoh, to set up the deliveries to Tanaka's secretary, Enomoto. Four clandestine drops over an eight-month period were arranged:
August 10, 1973, 2:20 p.m. At the back of the British Embassy, Itoh gave Enomoto 100 million yen in a cardboard box. The chauffeurs moved the money from the trunk of Itoh's car to the trunk of Enomoto's car.
October 12, 1973, 2:30 p.m. At a phone booth near Itoh's apartment, the procedure was repeated. This time the amount was 150 million yen.

January 21, 1974, 2:30 p.m. In the Hotel Okura parking lot, 125 million yen was passed.
March 1, 1974, 8:00 a.m. In Itoh's apartment, the final payment of 125 million yen was paid.[78]
In essence, the events listed above represented the totality of what Lockheed meant in Japan. Lockheed Corporation got the contract, Marubeni got the commission, ANA got twenty-one TriStars (6.3 billion dollars), the Japanese public got a good plane and Tanaka, Osano and Kodama got a little pocket money. The only problem was that it was all horribly illegal, a minor detail that wasn't taken seriously until the 1976 U.S. Senate Sub-Committee Public Hearings on U.S. Corporations Overseas Operations in which American lawmakers heard Kotchian lament over the ruthless atmosphere of doing business abroad, exposing Lockheed's 2.4 billion yen ($29.57 million) payment to Kodama and their 163 million yen sales promotion fund for Japanese government officials.[79]

The U.S. media displayed a modicum of surprise at the lack of ethics in the higher circles of foreign nations, while the Japanese press went into shock at the sudden blow suffered to national prestige. Upgrading the society's international reputation had been the prime foreign policy goal since Yoshida. Tanaka was naturally irritated with the unruly wild west structure of American democratic institutions and was particularly annoyed with the use of the word "bribe." Etsuzankai at once rushed to Tanaka's defense, denouncing the whole business as a CIA plot to dislodge their leader from national politics. For the CIA, 1976 had been a very difficult year, but the argument posed by Etsuzankai was so patently ludicrous that it was never taken seriously.

After the story blew up, Tanaka, now ex-Prime Minister, through Enomoto, quickly and quietly tried to return the money, but it was simply too late. Marubeni wanted nothing more to do with it. The bureaucracy Tanaka had learned to manipulate so skillfully suddenly turned on him and once again the Tokyo Prosecutors Office had a chance at him.

Kotchian had given his testimony on February 6, 1976, and for the next decade, Tanaka lived in a fish bowl that perhaps only the Emperor could identify with. His home and outside office were under constant surveillance by a small army of media personnel. Hana and Tanaka were held virtual prisoners at Mejiro. Tanaka seldom left the place, rarely attended his job at the Diet, and preferred to run his share of the Japanese political world by phone. Perhaps this media-created situation, more than anything else, gave him, in the eyes of some, a hardened Kuromaku image. Right or wrong, black or white, Tanaka had little choice but to conduct most of his business from the shadows of Mejiro.

Twelve days after the Kotchian testimony in the United States, Lockheed II The Circus, began:

  • February 16, 1976 - Wakasa and Watanabe testified to the Lower House Budget Committee that they "knew nothing about anything."
  • February 17 - Hiyama, Okubo and Itoh declared that Kotchian's story was news to them.
  • March 3 - Hiyama resigned his chairmanship from Marubeni.
  • March 4 - Kodama was questioned.
  • March 12 - Kodama was indicted for tax evasion.
  • March 24 - The U.S. Sub-Committee agreed to supply Japanese Prosecutors with Lockheed documents.
  • April 2 - Tanaka publicly declared his innocence.
  • April 10 - The Prosecution accepted all U.S.-supplied materials.
  • May 10 - Kodama was again indicted, this time for violation of Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Laws.
  • June 22 - Okubo was arrested for perjury as were three ANA officials (Aoki, Sawa and Ueki) for violation of Foreign Trade Control Statutes.
  • June 25 - In the Los Angeles Federal District Court, Kotchian began making his deposition for the Japanese Prosecutors Office.
  • July 2 - Itoh was arrested on perjury and Kodama's secretary, Tsuneo Tachikawa, was arrested for extortion.
  • July 7 - ANA director, Koichi Fujiwara, was arrested for violation of Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Laws.
  • July 8 - Wakasa was arrested for perjury and violation of Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Laws.
  • July 9 - Watanabe was arrested for perjury.
  • July 13 - Hiyama was arrested for violation of Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Laws.
  • July 19 - Katsuhiro Matsuoka, Itoh's chauffeur, was arrested for destroying evidence. Hidekazu Mori, a minor official at Marubeni, was also arrested for the same reason.
  • July 20 - Another minor Marubeni official, Tokuya Nakai, was arrested for destroying evidence.
  • July 24 - The Japanese Supreme Court, in a highly unusual move, agreed to give Kotchian immunity for his testimony.
  • July 27 - Tanaka and Enomoto were arrested for violation of Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Laws. Tanaka, in a show of humility, resigned from his official status as an LDP member.
  • August 1 - Tanaka's personal chauffeur, Masanori Kasahara, was detained and grilled by the police.
  • August 2 - Again questioned by the police, chauffeur Kasahara gave in to the pressure and confessed, providing the Prosecution with four memos and detailed drawings of the money exchanges between Itoh and Enomoto. Satisfied, the police released Kasahara, whereupon he drove to a wooded area in Saitama Prefecture, stoped the car, ran a hose from his exhaust pipe to the car interior and, in an act of loyalty, commited suicide by asphyxiation.[80]

Kasahara's death marked a turning point for Tanaka. By law, a dead man's deposition was useless as in-court evidence. Tanaka was officially indicted on August 16 and secured bail at 200 million yen ($2.46 million) on August 17. After this, the Lockheed case became increasingly complex. It was divided into four separate procedures: the Marubeni trial involving Tanaka, Enomoto, Hiyama, Itoh, Okubo, Nomiyama and Itoh's driver, Katsuhiro Matsuoka; the ANA trial involving Wakasa, Watanabe and former Transport Minister Hashimoto; the Kodama trial; and the Kenji Osano trial. Osano wasn't indicted until January 21, 1977, and his case concerned only perjury. As this chronology clearly demonstrates, the Lockheed case was a journalist's dream every week a new story for the front page, the whole process inching toward a giant climax. While 1977 didn't offer much on Tanaka, except speculation, he did have to make his first appearance in court on January 27.

The Tokyo District Prosecutor's Office was far from all powerful. It was the lowest level in the judiciary with no big names and a lot of beginners. Up to that point they had done a good job, and by January 27, 1977, they were feeling very self-confident. Tanaka, on this day, showed up to face them. He was very humble, offering a tearful apology for damaging the honor of the Prime Ministership followed by an emotional denial of all charges. That is what was said, but it was the unsaid that made everyone sit up and take notice. Tanaka had come to court with an ex-Supreme Court Justice as his attorney, supported by a who's who cast of former public prosecutors. Behind the humble voice, Tanaka had arrived in the court house with an awesome display of his power. There was no mistaking the silent message, to the prosecutors, the judges and the nation Tanaka had come to fight, not to apologize.
The only other big events of the year were former LDP Secretary General Yasuhiro Nakasone's denial of involvement in Lockheed before the House of Representatives, Kodama's first appearance in court and Osano's denials of perjury.

The following year, 1978, also had a fairly empty slate, though in December the Lower Court, over the vehement objections of the Defense, adopted the American depositions as evidence. To the Defense this was unprecedented foul play, because it was evidence taken under immunity from prosecution; such a courtesy given foreigners in testimony against a Japanese citizen defied the homogeneous nature of social ethics. It was unpatriotic!

In 1979, things went from bad to worse for Tanaka. In particular, three revelations hurt his defense. First, Okubo seemed to lose his fight, testifying that "money was something against my clear conscience." Then Hiyama revealed that indeed Lockheed had promised to give Tanaka the money. Finally, the Marubeni group showed that they had no real interest in protecting Tanaka, arguing that they were just a go-between.

In 1980, it was revealed that Kenji Osano had covered a 368 million -yen debt ($3.2 million) for a Chiba Dietman. This was a unique paradox. Osano had been successful in liberating 500 million yen ($ 4.4 million) from American-based Lockheed and adding the funds to the Japanese economy. In reverse, LDP Dietman Koichi Hamada had flown to Las Vegas in October, 1972 and blown about $1.5 million (370 million yen) on gambling, wine, women and song. Osano went to his rescue and picked up the tab, putting $1.5 million back in the American economy.[81]

At last, in 1981, things began to break open. The Tanaka camp came up with a surprise witness, Takashi Shimizu, a chauffeur attached to the Prime Minister's office who, during Tanaka's tenure, was assigned to Enomoto. A second chauffeur! The Defense railed the Prosecution for missing this witness. Shimizu testified that that Enomoto was with him during the so-called money drops. To back this up he produced a driver's log to prove Enomoto couldn't have been with Itoh collecting the cardboard boxes. In further support, the Tanaka team mobilized an array of influential politicians to verify Enomoto's whereabouts.
The Prosecution countered on three fronts. First, they managed to get a number of Enomoto's prominent witnesses to admit that their memories were poor. Some even admitted that they were speaking on Enomoto's behalf because they were afraid of Tanaka's power. Next, the Prosecution went after Shimizu, getting him to admit that he didn't chauffeur Enomoto exclusively and that, in fact, he often drove the car around empty. Further, they tricked Shimizu into admitting that his driver's log was not so exact several of the morning entries were indeed made at night. As if this wasn't enough, the prosecutors pulled out a surprise witness of their own, Enomoto's ex-wife Mieko. She testified on October 28. She admitted that Enomoto had told her about the money for Tanaka and that she personally had destroyed incriminating evidence on her husband's behalf.

The Defense naturally cried breach of ethical legal practice but it did little good in court. The nation's Justice Minister, Seisuke Okuno, went so far as to call the use of Mieko's testimony "against humanity." Coming from a political appointee, the comment was inappropriate, but it had little effect on the Lower Court. From here on out, Tanaka's case only grew weaker:

  • November 5, 1981 - Kenji Osano was sentenced to one year in prison. He naturally appealed. On the same day, Kodama's secretary, Tachikawa, was given four months with a two-year stay of execution. These were the first convictions concerning Lockheed.
  • January 26, 1982 - ANA's President Wakasa was sentenced to three years in prison with a five-year stay of execution. Five other ANA officials were sentenced to terms ranging from fourteen to eighteen months. Wakasa appealed.
  • June 8, 1982 - Former Transport Minister Hashimoto was sentenced to two-and-a-half years and a 5-million-yen penalty ($46,000).[82]

The hearings finally came to a conclusion on Wednesday, December 22, 1982. In the entire process, Tanaka had spoken only once, at the very beginning. On this day he would speak again.

At 3:00 a.m., people began to form a line outside the courthouse. The line swelled to five hundred by nine o'clock. Only fifty-two tickets were to be given out. The Metropolitan Police Department dispatched 130 special agents to cover the area. Major networks and newspapers sent out more than one hundred newsmen to cover the event.[83] They followed Tanaka from Mejiro to the court building where he arrived in his dark blue Chrysler limousine, flanked by two identical Chryslers, at exactly 9:38 a.m.
The proceedings began twenty-two minutes later, with judges Mitsunori Okada, Tadahiko Nagayama and Nobuyuki Kiguchi questioning Tanaka directly:
Judge: Defendant Hiyama testified in the courtroom that he told you at the August 23, 1972, meeting that Lockheed was ready to donate 500 million yen to you, and that Marubeni would act as an agent for the donation. Did you discuss anything of this kind?
Tanaka: Absolutely not. If you will excuse me, I would like to say a word. The fact is that Mr. Hiyama did not make any requests before or after [the August 23 meeting]. It is an outrageous thing that a businessman tells an incumbent Dietman [Tanaka avoids saying "Prime Minister"] that he will pay money if a sale has succeeded. If Mr. Hiyama had said such a thing, I would have demanded that he get out immediately. It is a major principle that politicians must not receive political donations from foreign countries. Making such a request is out of the question. I have never used such a word as "agent" in my life. The word "agent" means "a spy" to me.
Judge: When you met with people in the drawing room, was anyone else there?
Tanaka: Secretaries take care of minor cases. I made it a rule that there were no surprise requests.
Judge: You interviewed people for about one-and-a-half hours after watching the 7:00 a.m. news. Do you have something to add about this specific action?
Tanaka: I usually got up around 5:00 a.m. I made it a practice to watch the 6:00 a.m. news and if possible, the 7:00 a.m. news. I ate breakfast after meeting people. But I had a large number of visitors in the first few months after I assumed Prime Ministership, I often missed breakfast at the residence [Mejiro].
Judge:You said in your deposition taken by the Prosecutors that if Enomoto received money on your behalf, he might have sought your approval before or after the receipt, and that you firmly believe that there was no receipt of the 500 million yen. Did Enomoto ever receive money while you were Prime Minister?
Tanaka: Not at all, sir. In the Liberal Democratic Party, the Secretary General is in charge of political funds and the party would not let secretaries handle the funds.[84]


Judge Okada concluded by asking Tanaka if he had anything to add. Tanaka replied, "Nothing." The way was finally clear for trial summations. They were scheduled for the next month, January, 1983. For Tanaka, the new year began on an ominous note. He was nailed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Sewrage Bureau for eighteen years of back-charges on the water supply for his carp ponds. This was reduced to just three years in fines. Tanaka had no qualms about taking on the nation's justice system, but the Tokyo Metropolitan Sewerage Bureau was another matter, Tanaka buckled under and paid up.
The Prosecution made its 563-page summation on January 26, 1983. Their case was most impressive:

  1. Tanaka's admition to having a meeting with Hiyama, though not to accepting the money.
  2. Different stories from everyone.
  3. The Kotchian-Clutter depositions which clearly spelled out the story.
  4. Kasahara's pre-suicide confession.
  5. Itoh's driver, Matsuoka's, pre-trial confession.
  6. Nomiyama's confession of carrying the money from Tokyo Lockheed to Marubeni.
  7. Hiyama's pre-trial confession.
  8. Okubo's in-court testimony of conspiring to bribe Tanaka.
  9. Itoh's pre-trial confession of giving Enomoto the money.
  10. Enomoto's pre-trial confession of having four meetings with Itoh about the money.
  11. Enomoto's ex-wife Mieko's testimony.

In addition to all this, everybody in the ANA trial was found guilty as were Osano and Kodama's secretary. Kodama himself had fallen ill and his trial was postponed. Shimizu's testimony was reduced to a farce. The Prosecution, over six years, had drawn a clean line of money flow from Lockheed California to Enomoto, and insofar as Tanaka and Enomoto were the only two sticking together, directly to Tanaka by inference. All defendants with the single exception of Tanaka had admitted to something. The public attorneys had even traced some of the Lockheed money to seventeen different Dietmen whom Tanaka supported.
The Prosecution ended its summary with a demand that Tanaka be given five years in prison and a 500-million-yen fine ($4.4 million).

For the Defense, summation was delayed until May 11. During the interim, on February 7, Enomoto confessed on television to receiving the money. Tanaka had the best legal brains money could buy, but in the end the best they could do was to display their ability to drag out the trial in coordination with Tanaka's various political timetables. Almost pathetically, the Defense used its last opportunity to suggest that Tanaka was innocent by hinting that Marubeni had pocketed the money. It was as if the Defense had attended an entirely different trial over the last six years. For three days, the Defense stumbled on, arguing that:

  1. Tanaka, as Prime Minister, had no "official" authority to influence private business sectors.
  2. Enomoto, via Shimizu, had an alibi.
  3. Mieko's testimony was outside court ethics and grounds for mistrial.
  4. Depositions by foreigners under immunity was highly irregular and they should be thrown out.
  5. The Prosecution had failed to decisively explain where the alleged bribe went.
    With the final arguments concluded, judgment day was set for October 12, 1983. The day was 190 hearings, more than one hundred witnesses and six years, eight months after it had all begun. It had been a spectacular show. Three of the total sixteen defendants had fallen ill, while three witnesses and one judge had died. More than twenty books concerning the trial had been published; most best sellers. Mieko Enomoto had followed her devastating testimony by doing a nude layout for the Japanese edition of Penthouse magazine. Pornographic movie star Mitsuyasu Maeno had jumped into a light plane and in kamikaze fashion crashed it into the home of Yoshio Kodama. The whole affair had taken on bizarre proportions resembling a cross between the U.S. Watergate Hearings and the Scope's Monkey Trial.

When October 12 arrived, the whole nation was worked up to a feverish pitch. The nation's televisions and radios were on, seventeen helicopters were launched to cover Tanaka's drive from Mejiro to the courthouse, 450 special police were dispatched, 1500 news personnel descended on the two vital locations and 4,000 people lined up for the fifty-two available court galley seats. Live coverage began at 7:00 a.m.; the Tanaka Chrysler motorcade left Mejiro and arrived at the courthouse shortly after 9:30 a.m.
Even though this was only the "first" trial, Tanaka already had expended an estimated four million dollars to defend himself; the cost to the state was considerably more and media expenses were perhaps incalculable.

Judge Okada delivered a 55,000-character ruling, resulting in a declaration of guilt to all defendants. Okada admonished Tanaka for damaging the reputation of the nation and "forfeiting the people's trust in public offices." Tanaka was batting a thousand percent with the Tokyo District Court. The first time, in 1948, he only got six months. This time the judge threw the book at him he was given a sentence of four years with a 500-million-yen fine ($4.4 million). The judge ironically cut one year from the Prosecution's demand, this for Tanaka's outstanding record of public service. Significantly, the Defense had not won a single contention the judge, having adopted the Prosecution's argument in total. Okubo, Hiyama, Itoh and Eomoto also were found guilty. At the start, Lockheed had sixteen defendants; all but Kodama were found guilty (Kodama only escaped because of ill health). After spending five hours in the courthous, bail was posted and Tanaka reemerged. He quickly reorganized his Defense Counsel for the upcoming Appellate Hearing, keeping Katsuyoshi Shinzeki as chairman. In the first trial, Tanaka had only ten lawyers, in the next there were eighteen.

The Tanaka Problem

While Tanaka's legal standing was salvageable, his social standing came very much into question. Following his conviction, every major news organ in the country turned indignant. His status had reversed from innocent until proven guilty, to guilty until proven innocent. Everybody who was anybody got on his case; everyone, that is, but Justice Minister Akira Hatano (a Tanaka crony). Hatano summed up the situation most colorfully, "Tanaka is being lynched," adding "Looking for honesty in a politician is like shopping for fish at a green-grocers."[85] The Minister's cynicism wasn't the kind of thing the media wanted to hear, especially from the nation's chief lawmaker.

From a journalistic point of view, the Tanaka conviction humiliated society and stood as an historical disgrace, in part because Tanaka was the first head of state to face prison and beyond that because he was still an active member of the House of Representatives, the most active member, in fact.
According to the polls, the country shared the media's point of view, with 80 percent of the people and one-third of the nation's legislators believing that Tanaka should resign from public life.[86] During the evening of October 12, Tanaka may have been the most hated man in Japanese history. Hated because after he left the courthouse he coldly responded to the public hysteria by retorting, "As long as I am alive, and as long as I have the support and understanding of the people (Etsuzankai), I will continue to perform my duties as a member of the Diet."[87]

So much for a graceful and calm conclusion to the "Tanaka Problem," as it was called locally. Tanaka's refusal to give up his little red-gold, imperial, chrysanthemum shaped Dietman's badge or to relinquish his allotted four-by-four-meter office space in Nagatacho (Japan's version of Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue), created an image problem for the LDP in general and for Prime Minister Nakasone in particular. It is said that misfortune comes in bunches, and for Nakasone this was all too true. He only had eight months left to dissolve the Lower House and call a national election before members' terms officially expired. (The Prime Minister has the power to dissolve the House at any given time). Nicknamed "Tanakasone," the Prime Minister had every reason to fear that his political career and place in history were as dependent on the Tokyo District Court's final judgment as were Tanaka's. For himself and the party the best he could do was to delay a national election to the very last day in the hope that public displeasure over the LDP's inability to control Tanaka would subside. But this was not to be.

Overnight, the usually disorganized opposition parties united with the non-mainstream factions of the LDP and on the day following Tanaka's conviction they tried to ram through the Rules Committee and the LDP Executive Council a nine-month-old resolution recommending that Tanaka be censured from the House. In patented style, the Council preferred to deal with the troublesome issue by breaking it down into its component parts and studying it for awhile. Insolence breeds insolence. On October 14, the anti-Tanaka coalition began a boycott of all but emergency Diet business (disaster relief). Nakasone's Government came to a dead halt cleanly divided as follows:

Against Tanaka   For Tanaka[88]  
Japan Socialist Party 101 LDP Tanaka Faction 64
Komeito Party 34 LDP Suzuki Faction 62
Democratic Socialist Party 31 LDP Nakasone Faction 47
Communist Party 29 Independent 1
New Liberal Club Party 10 (Tanaka himself)  
Shaminren 3    
LDP Fukuda Faction 46    
LDP Komoto Faction 30    
Total Voting Power 284 Total Voting Power 174


The opposition, through their boycott, doubled Nakasone's woes. Not only had they publicly lined him up as a Tanaka puppet, but they had reduced his government to complete impotency, thereby casting doubt, at least in the voters' minds, as to his competency to lead the nation.

Nakasone, acting on the political assumption that tax cuts always win votes, tried to counter by introducing "tax cut legislation," hoping that it would be enough to entice the rebellious representatives back to their jobs. The opposition groups didn't take the bait and refused to discuss anything except the Tanaka problem. To make matters worse, Tanaka decided that he wanted an early election.
For Tanaka, personally, an early vote meant public exoneration or misogi. He knew he couldn't lose if his political fate was left to the discretion of Etsuzankai ballots. The media would have a very difficult time keeping the pressure on once he secured a new term. As Tanaka himself put it, "What is public opinion? Public opinion means the result of an election."[89] Tanaka simply had no intention of enduring eight more months of daily press hostility. He and his family, friends and colleagues had already lived through seven years of it. Enough was enough. If he allowed it to continue, the media would eventually erode his power base and transform him into a political pariah.

Harmony, faithfulness, effort, credibility and sincerity, according to a study by Sumitomo Life Insurance, are the soul of the nation.[90] At the opening of the Lockheed trial, Tanaka had lived up to these creeds by sincerely apologizing for damaging the Prime Ministership. What's more, he had made a credible effort to keep "harmony" and had demonstrated party "faithfulness" when he resigned as chief executive and then later resigned from the LDP altogether. To surrender his parliamentary seat at that point would have constituted one sacrifice too many. After all, he had a constituency that was very dependent upon him. Tanaka, at least on paper, as an "Independent" Dietman, owed nothing to the party. Conversely, the party owed him.

For forty-seven days, Tanaka brought the nation to its knees. Neither he nor the opposition would give an inch. Both wanted an early election but wanted it for opposite reasons. Finally Nakasone, outgunned, 349 to 149, caved in. On November 28, seven months ahead of schedule, Nakasone dissolved the Lower House and called a general election. The "Tanaka problem" was now up to the nation's 84.5 million registered voters.

During his Anten period, as the next three charts will show, Tanaka had built an awesome power base. He had the numbers and was at his pinnacle. This upcoming election, unlike any other, could be characterized simply as Tanaka versus Japan.


[ Chapter 5: KITEN is the next section. ]

© Steven Hunziker.