• Politics & Government

7 Abe Faction Executives Not to Be Indicted; Prosecutors Failed to Find Collusion with Treasurer

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
An Abe faction fundraising party held in May 2023

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office does not intend to indict seven executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Abe faction accused of violating the Political Funds Control Law by not reporting a portion of income from the faction’s fundraising parties, it has been learned.

The office’s special investigation squad is expected to indict without arrest the faction’s treasurer who compiled and submitted the faction’s political funds income and expenditure reports but deemed it impossible to identify any collusion between the executives and the treasurer. In the meantime, the squad will file cases against three lawmakers who received large sums of kickbacks from the faction. It will then consult with higher prosecutor offices to make final decisions within this week.

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 from selling fundraising party tickets to about 100 lawmakers who sold them.

Seven executive members — the faction’s former secretary generals, former acting chairmen and the core “five-man group” members — have been accused: former Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura; former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno; former Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura; the party’s former Diet Affairs Committee Chairperson Tsuyoshi Takagi; former education minister Ryu Shionoya; the party’s former House of Councillors Secretary General Hiroshige Seko; and the party’s former Policy Research Council Chairperson Koichi Hagiuda.

When they were voluntarily questioned about their interactions with the treasurer, the seven lawmakers denied their involvement in not reporting the funds, telling prosecutors that it was “a matter for the faction’s chairperson to handle.” The treasurer, on his part, said he had not received instructions from the executives to make the income off-the-book, resulting in prosecutors to find no clear evidence.

The special investigation squad will pursue criminal charges against Abe faction’s three lawmakers who allegedly failed to document more than ¥40 million in their balance reports: House of Representatives lawmaker Yoshitaka Ikeda, who was arrested on suspicion of violating the law; upper house lawmaker Yasutada Ono and lower house lawmaker Yaichi Tanigawa. The squad is expected not to build a case against lawmakers who allegedly failed to report below that amount in consideration for fairness to past cases.

 Meanwhile, the prosecutors will likely indict without arrest a treasurer of the fifth-largest Nikai faction, also known as Shisuikai, for not reporting a portion of the sales from the faction’s fundraising parties. Some of its faction members, including its chairman and former LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, had secured excess of quotas of party ticket sales and failed to pay it to the faction. The amount of money the faction failed to report is said to have totaled more than ¥200 million over the five years through 2022.

 The squad is expected to impose criminal punishment on the series of the cases within this week. Even if prosecutions of the executives and members are dropped, complaints against them can be filed with the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution. In that case, it may take a longer period for the criminal disciplinary action to be finalized.