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Another Reason to Avoid Japanese Stocks: Street Whispers

The recent black eye to Nomura, and it and Panasonic's recent earnings leaks add to an already suffering reputation for Japanese corporations, financial transparency and management.

In 2011, Michael Woodford, the first non-Japanese chief executive Olympus - and one of a handful of foreign CEO's in Japan -- uncovered a web of accounting fraud and bribery at the camera maker. Woodford was quickly fired by Olympus for initiating an internal inquiry and took to the global business press, notably the Financial Times, to detail the fraud and bribery charges.

This year Japanese authorities arrested seven former Olympus executives, including the company's former chairman after investigating Woodford's fraud allegations. Olympus shares have fallen nearly 50% in the last 12 months, even after tripling from lows when it faced the prospect of being delisted.

Although Japanese equities suffer from headwinds like a strong currency, weak present demand for electronics and hardware components, and the lingering impact of a devastating 2011 earthquake - in addition to longer lasting economic issues - its time investors take a close look at whether rampant leaked information is also eroding confidence in the Japan's stock markets.

For more on corporate malfeasance, see details on a bank rate fixing inquiry and the insider trading conviction of Rajat Gupta, a former Goldman Sachs board director.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York
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