• Politics & Government

Abe Faction Executives Say Decision on Kickbacks Handled by Group’s Leader

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
An Abe faction political fundraising party in Minato Ward, Tokyo, in May

Several executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Abe faction have denied collusion regarding alleged violations of the Political Funds Control Law within the group, telling prosecutors during voluntary questioning that it was a matter for the faction’s chairperson to handle kickbacks from political party fundraising revenue, it has been learned.

A treasurer who compiled and submitted the faction’s political funds income and expenditure reports has admitted that the kickbacks were not included in the reports. The executives questioned have told the special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office that they were not involved in making the reports and denied any collusion with the treasurer, the sources said.

The Abe faction, also known as Seiwa Seisaku Kenkyukai, is suspected of having moved over ¥570 million into hidden funds from 2018 to 2022 by distributing revenue in excess of quotas for selling fundraising party tickets to lawmakers who sold them.

Two late members served as the faction’s chairperson during this period: former House of Representatives Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda who died in November and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Four members served as the faction’s secretary general: former Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, former Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and former LDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairperson Tsuyoshi Takagi.

According to the sources, several executives including the former secretaries general told prosecutors that the kickbacks were a “matter to be handled by the chairperson and treasurer.”

Regarding the kickbacks in 2022, it has been learned that Abe had indicated his intention to abolish them, but it was decided to continue the practice following a discussion among then secretary general of the faction Nishimura, then acting chairperson Shimomura, former education minister Ryu Shionoya and other executives after Abe’s death in a shooting incident in July that year. These executives allegedly have denied any involvement in the off-the-books funds for 2022 as well.

The squad will complete its interviews with party executives as early as this week. It will then consult with higher prosecutor offices to determine whether or not to proceed with criminal procedures.