State Archives: Charles Haughey visit to Japan coincided with Takeshita corruption scandal

One could hardly imagine a more traumatic political time to visit Japan than late April 1989, when Taoiseach Charles Haughey arrived there

State Archives: Charles Haughey visit to Japan coincided with Takeshita corruption scandal

One could hardly imagine a more traumatic political time to visit Japan than late April 1989, when Taoiseach Charles Haughey arrived there. Japan had been shaken for months by a financial scandal, involving a company offering shares to politicians at preferential prices.

The deputy prime minister and minister for finance were both forced out of office early, due to their involvement. Prime minister Noboru Takeshita tried to distance himself from the scandal by explicitly denying personal involvement, and drastically reshuffling his cabinet with the introduction of 15 new faces in December 1988. Within two days, however, he was hit by further controversy when his new Minister for Justice had to quit over disclosures of his involvement.

A public opinion poll taken in late March, just weeks before Haughey’s visit, indicated that three-quarters of the people interviewed wished for Mr Takeshita to resign immediately. As no stranger to controversy himself, Mr Haughey realised his state visit would be welcomed by the government as a diversion from its travails. As a result his four-day visit was surprisingly successful, even though Mr Takeshita had to announce his resignation during those four dramatic days.

Following his arrival in Japan on April 23, 1989, Mr Haughey was welcomed at the Imperial Palace by acting emperor Akihito, who had taken over in January, following the death of his father Hirohito, who had been on the throne for more than 60 years, going back to 1926.

The Taoiseach met with Mr Takeshita in Tokyo next day for over two hours. “We discussed a wide range of bilateral issues, as well as international political affairs and European Community matters,” Haughey reported to the Dáil the following week. “I took the opportunity of stressing Ireland’s wish for a close working relationship with Japan and our concern for the development of an open world trading system.”

Mr Takeshita lauded the Dublin government’s “vision in setting up the Irish Financial Services Centre” in which four major Japanese financial corporations were already involved.

“We agreed to establish a joint forum for political, cultural and educational matters and another joint forum for economic affairs,” Mr Haughey noted.

Their main aim was to “advance the growing relationship” between the two countries, in order “to serve as a clearing house for ideas and projects and to identify difficulties and problems.”

Mr Takeshita’s political position became utterly untenable that day with the latest disclosure, that he had received 151 million yen (more than $120,000) from the company involved in the scandal.

Next day, which was Mr Haughey’s second full day in the country, Mr Takeshita announced that he was stepping down as prime minister.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.