• Politics & Government

Nine Members of Japan’s Ruling Liberal Democratic Party at Political Reform Headquarters Suspected of Failing to Report Fundraising Revenues

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Liberal Democratic Party’s headquarters building in Tokyo

Nine lawmakers of the Abe faction who have joined the Liberal Democratic Party’s political reform headquarters are suspected of failing to report kickbacks from the faction’s fundraising parties, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The reform headquarters were established by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is also the LDP president, to discuss the future of LDP factions and to find methods to improve political funding transparency after there were allegations of hidden funds connected with faction-organized fundraising parties.

The Abe faction was led by late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The headquarters comprise 38 LDP lawmakers, 10 of whom are from the Abe faction.

In the Abe faction, about 100 lawmakers are suspected of receiving kickbacks or pooling hidden funds over a five-year period through 2022. Of them, about 80 members still belong to the faction and are current Diet members. The total amount of hidden funds is suspected to exceed ¥570 million.

According to sources, the nine Abe faction members are suspected of failing to record the kickbacks — amounts range from hundreds of thousands to millions of yen — in the political funds reports of their respective political organizations during the five-year period.

The nine include Naoki Okada, acting head of the headquarters and former minister of state for regional revitalization, and Kotaro Nogami, vice head of the headquarters and former agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister. The seven remaining members are Hajime Sasaki, Michiko Ueno, Fusae Ota, Rui Matsukawa, Yumi Yoshikawa, Takashi Fujiwara and Harumi Takahashi.

The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office aims to bring a charge against the faction’s chief accounting official on suspicion of violating the Political Funds Control Law.

The prosecutors will likely probe into whether leading members of the faction were involved in the hidden funds schemes and make a final judgment about the issue.