Top Japan Spokesperson Suspected of Hiding ¥10 Million in Funds from Abe Faction Political Fundraisers

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno arrives at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Friday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno’s name has surfaced among government figures suspected of receiving off-the-books kickbacks from political party fundraising revenue in the past five years, according to sources close to the matter.

The sources said the amount is more than ¥10 million, which he is suspected of failing to state in his political funds reports.

Matsuno is a senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s largest political faction, led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe until his death and known as the Abe faction. Matsuno served as the faction’s secretary general, in charge of practical affairs, from September 2019 to October 2021.

The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is also aware of the allegation over the funds and the squad is looking into questioning Matsuno.

“I am aware that an investigation is underway,” Matsuno said during a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Friday.

“I would like to carefully check my own political organization and take appropriate action,” he added, without elaborating.

More than 10 lawmakers from the Abe faction are suspected of receiving proceeds in excess of quotas for their fundraising party ticket sales, and both the faction and the lawmakers failed to list the money in political fund reports, according to sources.

Matsuno is suspected of accumulating more than ¥10 million in such hidden funds over five years, from 2018 through 2022.

The squad is investigating the alleged hidden funds in violation of the Political Funds Control Law.

First elected to the House of Representatives in 2000 from Chiba Constituency No. 3, Matsuno has been reelected seven times. Before becoming the government spokesperson, Matsuno held senior positions such as LDP deputy secretary general and education, culture, sports, science and technology minister. He became chief cabinet secretary in October 2021 when Prime Minister Fumio Kishida launched his first Cabinet.