By - Carla Rapoport

(FORTUNE Magazine) – When scandal strikes in Japan, an image flashes around the world of the humbled CEO or political leader bowing deeply and tendering his resignation. By implication, the disgraced person thus condemns himself to spending his % final years in shame and powerlessness. Not so. Take the current roiling of Nomura Securities, the world's largest brokerage firm. President Yoshihisa Tabuchi has resigned, acknowledging that the firm secretly compensated big clients for stock market losses. News reports set the make-good amount at $185 million and also said Nomura had allegedly financed some business enterprises of Japan's Mob. Is Tabuchi finished? Hardly. He's starting a new job at Nomura: vice chairman. Tabuchi is following a well-trodden path. After some poorly designed Sanyo heaters were found to be asphyxiating users, President Kaoru Iue quit in 1986. But he remained a director until his death in 1988. Observes Jiro Kamishima, retired politics professor of Tokyo's Rissho University: ''Stepping down is just a cleansing ritual. Once they do that, after a bit of time, they can do anything they want.''

As the box shows, the same survival rule applies to politicians. The more than 20 who resigned in 1989's Recruit influence-peddling scandal remain major forces in the Japanese Diet. Three are even contenders for the Prime Minister's job, which comes open this October.


Yasumoto Takagi, 78. Resigned as CEO of Japan Airlines in 1985 after a crash killed 520 passengers. Still serves as paid adviser to the airline's board of directors. Shoichi Saba, 72. Resigned as chairman of Toshiba in 1987 after a related company sold secret submarine technology to the Soviets. Still an adviser to Toshiba's board. Ichiro Isoda, 78. Quit as chairman of Sumitomo Bank in 1990 after revelations of bad loans to real estate speculators. Now advises bank's board. Noboru Takeshita, 67. Resigned as Prime Minister in 1989 in wake of Recruit scandal in which an aide received shares allegedly in exchange for political favors. Remains one of the most powerful men in ruling Liberal Democratic Party; possible candidate for next Prime Minister. Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, 57, president of Seibu Railway, quit presidency of Japan Olympic Committee in 1990 after conflict-of-interest accusations. Now honorary chairman of Nagano Winter Olympic Games Committee. LDP member Kazuo Aichi, 54, pulled out of a major election after taking about $15,000 from Recruit as a donation. Returned the money and heads Japan's Environmental Protection Agency.