Concerns Deepen Within Japan’s Ruling Party Following Search of Lawmaker’s Office Over Political Funds Scandal

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The office of Diet member Yoshitaka Ikeda is seen on Wednesday in Nagoya.

Members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are increasingly worried following an official search of the parliamentary office of Yoshitaka Ikeda, a member of the House of Representatives from the Abe faction.

Party members reportedly fear that the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office may expand its investigation into alleged violations of the Political Funds Control Law, as well as political fundraising parties conducted by the faction.

Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Policy Research Council Chairperson Kisaburo Tokai, said, “We have to take the [investigation] seriously and make every effort to eliminate public distrust.”

LDP members of parliament and their secretaries are reportedly deeply shocked over the raiding of an office belonging to someone other than the five key figures of Abe faction, including former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno and former LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairperson Tsuyoshi Takagi.

Ikeda is suspected of having pooled over ¥10 million of factional funds. More than 10 other members of the faction are suspected of having indulged in similar activities.

“It’s possible that such investigations will continue,” a senior LDP official said. “If so, the party’s credibility will go into free fall.”

The opposition parties have made clear their desire for the case to be further pursued.

“It’s extraordinary for a parliamentary office to be raided,” Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan President Kenta Izumi said to press members at the Diet on the day. “The [LDP] administration, which has built its foundation upon a culture of pooled funds, lacks legitimacy.”

Meanwhile, Fumitake Fujita, secretary general of Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), said: “Trust in the LDP has hit rock bottom. We should sweep away factional politics and push forward with sweeping political changes.”

For his part, Akira Koike, head of the secretariat of the Japanese Communist Party, said, “Prime Minister [Fumio] Kishida should immediately explain why LDP members are being investigated.”