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Japan – Founder of Japan’s largest staffing firm dies

11 February 2013

Hiromasa Ezoe, founder of Japan’s largest staffing company Recruit Holdings (formerly Recruit Co.), died on 8 February 2013 at the age of 76. He originally established the business as an advertisement company in 1963 and managed the firm for 25 years.

His business grew rapidly and became a success, but Mr Ezoe fell into disgrace when his involvement in a stock-for-favours scandal became public.

In 1989, he was arrested for granting unlisted shares in one of the firm's subsidiaries, Recruit Cosmos Co, to a number of high-profile politicians (including the prime minister), business leaders and senior bureaucrats. The scandal, still remembered as one of the most notorious in the country, brought down the Japanese government at the time.

Following the scandal, Recruit became a private company but, interestingly, last year announced its intention to seek a public listing once again in order to finance its overseas expansion.

Mr Ezoe’s trial lasted over a decade and in 2003  he was given a suspended sentence of three years. Mr Ezoe later said about the scandal: “Back then, I was lonely and under constant pressure (to build up my business). I was maintaining my emotional balance by making enormous political donations whenever I was asked.”

In his later years, Mr Ezoe headed the Ezoe Ikueikai, a scholarship society which he founded to support young people.  

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