Tadahiro Matsushita, Japanese official, dies

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Japanese Financial Services Minister Tadahiro Matsushita, who since taking the post in June led a crackdown on insider trading that triggered resignations of the top two executives at Nomura Holdings Inc., has died. He was 73.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department concluded that Matsushita committed suicide and has closed the investigation, according to a police spokesman. They received an emergency call at 4:59 p.m. after his wife found him unconscious at his home in Tokyo, the spokesman said, adding Matsushita left several notes.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda appointed Matsushita, a lawmaker from junior government coalition partner the People's New Party, as part of a Cabinet reshuffle three months ago. Matsushita vowed to deepen the Financial Services Agency's probe into the insider-trading scandal and restore confidence in the world's second-largest stock market.

"I was so shocked to hear this sad news," Noda told reporters at his official residence last night. "I'm lost for words. He always cheered me up during difficult times." Nomura's chief executive Kenichi Watanabe and chief operating officer Takumi Shibata resigned in July after the FSA found that employees leaked information on share sales managed by the firm. In August, the agency ordered Nomura, Japan's biggest brokerage, to improve its compliance.

"This is a big loss for Japan's financial industry," said Hideaki Miyajima, a commerce professor at Waseda University specializing in corporate governance. "But I expect Japan's financial regulatory framework will remain intact." Finance Minister Jun Azumi said that he will act as financial services minister. Noda, who on Sept. 21 will face challenges from three rivals to lead his ruling Democratic Party of Japan, has pledged to call a general election "soon."

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