Japan’s LDP Abe Faction Exec Says Providing Financial Assistance to Members Deemed Necessary

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hiroshige Seko, former Liberal Democratic Party’s House of Councillors secretary general, speaks at an upper house Deliberative Council on Political Ethics session on Thursday.

Senior members of the Liberal Democratic Party’s scandal-ridden Abe faction deemed it necessary to continue to give member lawmakers financial assistance, despite receiving instructions from the group’s head to stop extending kickbacks, former LDP upper house Secretary General Hiroshige Seko said at an upper house Deliberative Council on Political Ethics session on Thursday.

Seko was one of the senior members of the Abe faction, which was led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and is at the center of a scandal of alleged violations of the Political Funds Control Law. Seko previously served as the faction’s leader in the upper house but denied any involvement in the scandal, in which funds given to faction members were not recorded in their political funds reports.

“I didn’t know about it at all,” Seko said.

In April 2022, Abe, who was the head of the faction, said the practice of kickback should be stopped.

In early August, after Abe’s death, the faction’s executives, including Seko, former education ministers Ryu Shionoya and Hakubun Shimomura and former economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, discussed what to do regarding the practice.

Seko told the ethics council the Aug. 5, 2022, meeting was to “listen to everyone’s opinions.”

Seko said it was decided that lawmakers who exceeded their quotas for fundraising ticket sales should be given something other than cash kickbacks.

Seko explained it was unclear why the cash practice continued and said, “I also want to know who made the decision.”

The Abe faction allegedly exempted its upper house members who were up for reelection from their quota, meaning they would receive funds from all the tickets they sold to fundraising parties. Seko said he only learned about it after it started being reported.

“The rule in which upper house members up for reelection in a given year were exempted from a quota, somehow started and was being practiced,” Seko said.