Japan Lawmakers Questioned Over Hidden Funds Scandal; Full Investigation Planned Into Communications With Faction

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Liberal Democratic Party head office

Liberal Democratic Party members suspected of receiving large kickbacks from their faction have been voluntarily questioned by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office’s special investigative squad, sources said.

The squad is expected to launch a full-scale investigation as soon as by the end of this week into people related to the Abe faction on suspicion of violating the Political Funds Control Law, while continuing to interview lawmakers.

Abe faction staff in charge of accounting allegedly provided members with cash after political fundraising parties, equaling the amounts by which the members had exceeded their quota for ticket sales. The accounting staff allegedly asked the members not to include the money in political funds reports.

Many of the 99 faction members are suspected of having received kickbacks this way, with at least 10 members receiving more than ¥10 million over the last five years, and the total amounting to around ¥500 million.

According to the sources, prosecutors began questioning relevant members late last week and confirmed the facts from people who received amounts ranging from more than ¥10 million to tens of millions of yen. A person who received over ¥10 million was reportedly asked to explain when the practice began and how the amount became so high.

Prosecutors are expected to further investigate over the people’s communications with the faction and the money’s use, following a series of statements from their secretaries that they were instructed by the faction not to report the money.

Prosecutors believe that the faction may have taken the initiative in systematically hiding the funds, and will build a case against the faction’s treasurer on suspicion of either not reporting, or falsely reporting, the money.