How Scandal Finally Outran the Reformer

He promised to clean up money politics. But in the end, Hosokawa was felled by his own improprieties.

Japanese custom dictates that when alcohol is served, it is permissible to let one's guard down. Early last week Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa did just that over an eel-and-sake dinner in a fancy Tokyo restaurant, confiding to his dining partners that he wanted to quit. His indiscretion was immediately leaked to the press, prompting an official denial that same night. Three days later, however, Hosokawa set his resignation in motion. A popular reformer who came to power last August pledging to sweep out "money politics" was outrun by a scandal of his own making.

At a hastily called press conference Friday,...

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