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Reporters' voice recorders are put on a desk during a news conference by Mizuho Financial Group Deputy President Toshitsugu Okabe (bottom) at Bank of Japan headquarters in Tokyo October 4, 2013. Mizuho Financial Group said on Thursday it had replaced its chief compliance officer almost a week after Japan's banking regulator reprimanded it over loans extended through consumer credit agencies to members of organised crime networks. The Financial Services Agency (FSA) last week ordered Mizuho to improve its business practices, saying the bank had known since 2010 that it had, through the credit agencies, extended more than 200 million yen ($2 million) in loans to what the regulator called counter-social forces.
Reporters' voice recorders are put on a desk during a news conference by Mizuho Financial Group Deputy President Toshitsugu Okabe (bottom) at Bank of Japan headquarters in Tokyo October 4, 2013. Mizuho Financial Group said on Thursday it had replaced its chief compliance officer almost a week after Japan's banking regulator reprimanded it over loans extended through consumer credit agencies to members of organised crime networks. The Financial Services Agency (FSA) last week ordered Mizuho to improve its business practices, saying the bank had known since 2010 that it had, through the credit agencies, extended more than 200 million yen ($2 million) in loans to what the regulator called counter-social forces.
(Issei Kato/Reuters)

Japanese reformers thwarted by status quo – and Yakuza

It’s the sort of news no political leader wants to hear: An influential banker appointed to a key economic panel is forced to resign when it turns out his institution was funnelling loans to a raft of criminals, and its former top executive knew about it. The banker in question, Yasuhiro Sato, CEO of Mizuho Financial Group, was among nine high-profile business executives selected by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to advise him on efforts to restructure the ailing economy. Doing business with what Mr. Sato and other Japanese officials call “anti-social forces” and everyone else calls the Yakuza was probably not on the list of possible options.