Japan’s Diet looks to soon fix flaw that gave members ¥1 million paychecks for 1 day

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Diet Building

Parties in the Diet are looking to revise relevant laws after objections were raised to the fact that House of Representatives members newly elected on Oct. 31 were given the full ¥1 million monthly allowance for October expenses.

The ruling parties have decided to start discussions with the opposition parties to make the revisions during the extraordinary Diet session expected to convene in early December, saying it is necessary to base the allowance on the number of days served as Diet members.

The allowance for expenses such as correspondence and transportation fees is granted to Diet members on top of their salary, based on laws including the Diet Law. Unlike their salary, the allowance is not based on the number of days served, so the full amount is paid each month even if they serve only one day.

“It’s odd for the full monthly amount to be paid to first-time lawmakers who have been in office just one day,” ruling Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi said at a press conference on Tuesday. “So that the public does not get the wrong impression, we want to take appropriate measures.”

The issue attracted attention when Taku Ikeshita, a newly elected lawmaker from Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), spoke about the payment during an NHK program on Sunday.

“I was given ¥1 million for one day in office,” he said. “The public’s common sense would say that this is inconceivable.”

His party has announced its intention to donate the October amount, saying such a payment cannot gain public understanding.

“Nagatacho is detached from the public’s common sense,” Ishin leader and Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui told reporters Monday, referring to the nation’s political center. “The party would like to collect [the October allowance] and make it available to people in need.”

Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People, agreed Monday, arguing the allowance should be paid at a daily rate.

Matsui also expressed an eagerness to amend the laws to make the allowance paid according to the number of days served as Diet members and to require disclosure on how it was used, which is currently not required. However, there are cautious opinions among the parties and it is unclear whether this will be realized or not.

Motegi also announced Tuesday that the LDP would like to collect the October amount from the members who served only one day in October and donate it.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of ruling coalition partner Komeito, also announced his party’s intention to take a similar approach to the LDP.

“I would like to consult with each party on a bill to amend the laws so that the allowance is paid on a daily basis,” he said to reporters in the Diet on Tuesday.

Tetsuro Fukuyama, secretary general of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, indicated that the party would seek to submit a bill to the Diet seeking the same type of changes.

“The problem was that we overlooked it,” he said. “We would like to discuss it in the extraordinary Diet session.”

Fukuyama added that each party should discuss during the meeting of the Committee on Rules and Administration of the lower house how to manage the allowance that has already been paid.

Japanese Communist Party secretariat head Akira Koike agreed with other parties, saying, “It is necessary to clarify the purpose and conduct a fundamental review.”