• Politics & Government

Japan Lawmakers ‘Secretly Pooled Excess Money from Ticket Sales’

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prosecutors enter the building that serves as the headquarters of the Abe faction in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

People affiliated with lawmakers of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Abe faction have told the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office that the lawmakers sometimes pooled quota-exceeding cash from party ticket sales without notifying the faction, it has been learned.

The special investigation squad believes the concealed funds should have been officially included as part of the faction’s income, in keeping with the kickbacks that lawmakers received from the faction side. It is thus suspected that the amount of unreported funds may increase.

Members of the faction — formerly led by late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — and the faction itself are suspected of excluding quota-exceeding kickbacks from party ticket sales.

These unreported funds are thought to have totaled about ¥500 million over the past five years. Investigators raided the faction’s offices Wednesday on suspicion that the Political Funds Control Law had been violated, and confiscated many items.

According to sources, people connected to lawmakers of the Abe faction, which is also known as Seiwa Seisaku Kenkyukai, explained to the prosecutors’ squad that the lawmakers paid only their official quota to the faction, while secretly pooling the excess money at their offices, excluding it from their political fund reports.

Some lawmakers reportedly pooled several million yen over the five-year period. The prosecutors are believed to be investigating whether or not lawmakers pooled such cash, and if so, how they spent it.

Unlike kickbacks, pooled money is not recorded in the LDP’s factions’ accounting documents. However, the prosecutorial squad believes such monies should have been logged as factional income, because it was derived from faction-related parties.

The Abe faction’s unreported income and expenses are thought to total about ¥1 billion, but this figure could be much higher if the pooled money was included.

A lawmaker-related source who admitted pooling excess funds said, “We treated the money as a compensatory fund in case we didn’t reach the party-related event quota in the following year and beyond.”