Tokyo Prosecutors’ Investigation to Focus on Whether Lawmakers Were Aware of Hidden Funds

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Public Prosecutors Office building, which houses the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, is seen in Chiyoda, Ward, Tokyo.

The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is set to launch a full probe into factions of the Liberal Democratic Party.

With about 50 prosecutors assembled from across the nation, they will first investigate the funds allegedly hidden by the faction once led by late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Political Funds Control Law requires those responsible for accounting to record revenue and expenditures in political funds reports and submit them accordingly. The investigation team reportedly intends to build a case against the Abe faction’s accounting official, who failed to report both revenue and expenditures related to kickbacks, on suspicion of violating the law. The team will also investigate individual faction members who failed to record such money in funds reports.

The focus will be on whether Diet members of the faction were aware of omissions or false statements about off-the-books funds. The lawmakers may be charged with conspiracy if they instructed accounting officials to make such omissions or approved such practice after being consulted.

The investigation squad will work to identify political organizations that should have recorded the kickbacks in the fund’s reports, and through questioning, it will try to confirm the circumstances around the omissions and other relevant matters as well as whether the lawmakers were aware of this practice. The team is also likely to figure out how former secretaries general who played key roles in managing the faction were involved, both as a secretary general and lawmaker.

There are hurdles however in building a case against the Diet members. To prove that they were involved in this latest scandal, objective evidence and statements by people such as the lawmakers’ secretaries are likely to be key in supporting the case.