Kishida Faction Suspected of Underreporting Party Income; Abe Faction’s Hidden Funds May Total ¥500 Mil.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida answers questions from reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The Liberal Democratic Party’s Kishida faction, which until recently was headed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, is suspected of underreporting revenue from fundraising parties in its political funds reports, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is believed to be aware of this matter and to be closely investigating whether faction members received kickbacks taken from the proceeds.

The Kishida faction’s political funds reports stated about ¥840 million in total as political party fundraising revenue from 2018 to 2022. According to the sources, the actual amount of the party income was greater than what was recorded, thus making it likely that the faction underreported it in its reports.

Kishida left his own faction on Thursday, saying, “It is appropriate for me to leave the faction while in office as prime minister and LDP president.”

Regarding the allegations that five LDP factions understated their income from fundraising parties, the Abe faction, once led by the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the Nikai faction led by Toshihiro Nikai are suspected of failing to document proceeds in excess of quotas for fundraising party ticket sales in their political funds reports and giving faction members kickbacks taken from the revenue.

It has been found that the Abe faction’s alleged off-the-books kickbacks taken from political party fundraising revenue totaled ¥500 million over the past five years. The full amount of income and expenditures that the faction did not list in its reports may exceed ¥1 billion. It is believed that the lawmakers suspected of receiving kickbacks also did not include the money in their reports.

The Nikai faction’s alleged off-the-books party income is estimated to exceed ¥100 million, but unlike the Abe faction, it was recorded as expenditures in the faction’s reports and as income in members’ reports.

The underreported amount that has come to light in the case of the Kishida faction is believed to be smaller than those of the Abe and Nikai factions.

Prosecutors are investigating allegations of violations of the Political Funds Control Law, and they have continued questioning accounting officials and secretaries, among others, mainly from the Abe faction, which has a large amount of off-the-books funds.

Prosecutors are expected to launch a full-scale investigation as early as Wednesday, when the extraordinary Diet session closes, and are looking into questioning dozens of lawmakers, including those who have served as the faction’s secretary general.

Regarding the allegedly underreported party income, the office of the Kishida faction released a statement on Tuesday morning, saying, “We will take appropriate action after having an accurate understanding of the facts.”