Japanese PM steps into Olympus scandal

Concern that problems will "tarnish" country


The Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihiko Noda, is seeking clarification regarding controversial payments made by Olympus, over fears that the scandal may tarnish Japan's reputation.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Noda spoke of his concerns that the allegations surrounding Olympus may be taken as indicative of how the whole country operates.

"What worries me is that it will be a problem if people take the events at this one Japanese company and generalise from that to say Japan is a country that does not follow the rules of capitalism," he said.

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It is unusual for the Prime Minister to speak about events involving a private company, such as Olympus, but speculation and rumour about the company has been widespread around the world since it fired Michael Woodford, only two weeks into his job as CEO.


Woodford accuses Olympus of serious wrongdoing, suggesting that more than $1bn had disappeared into the hands of financial advisers and investment funds regarding past acquisitions.

Referring to the third party committee set up by Olympus to investigate the payments, Mr Noda said, "I want them to fully clarify the facts and act on them appropriately."

As of now, Olympus has rejected criticism and always maintained that the payments involved were legal and accurate.

Earlier this month, shares in Olympus began to tumble, halving their market value over the allegations, but after the new chairman and president, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, resigned on Wednesday, stock began to rise again. However, there are still plenty of questions left to be answered regarding what critics say appears to be massive overpayments for advice and assets.

Chief Executive of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Atsushi Saito, said that the exchange was pressuring Olympus to disclose more information about its past acquisitions.

Stay tuned for more on this story as it emerges.

Via Financial Times