Finance Fumble

Michio Ochi was brought in last year to overhaul Japan's crippled banking system. But during a recent speech, the head of the Financial Reconstruction Commission suggested that he was willing to help banks circumvent government inspections. "Please inform us of any complaints about the inspection," he told a gathering of bankers. "I will give it the utmost consideration." Last week members of Japan's largest opposition party played the taped remarks for reporters. Ochi stepped down last Friday and was replaced by Sadakazu Tanigaki, the former head of Japan's Science and Technology Agency. "My comment caused a lot of trouble for the cabinet," Ochi said. "I had no choice."