Kishida Seeks to Punish LDP Lawmakers over Funds Scandal

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during an annual Liberal Democratic Party convention in Tokyo on Sunday.

Tokyo, March 17 (Jiji Press)—Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Sunday that he has ordered his ruling Liberal Democratic Party to punish member lawmakers involved in a slush funds scandal involving intraparty factions.

“We’ll respond strictly,” Kishida, also LDP president, said at an annual party convention at a Tokyo hotel.

The scandal “has caused a lot of suspicion from the public and serious distrust in politics,” Kishida said. “I sincerely apologize to the people.”

In the scandal, funds collected by intraparty factions and given to faction members were not recorded in their political funds reports.

Kishida said, “I’ll take the lead in carrying out party and political reforms to restore trust in politics.”

He said that he will continue to urge those involved in the scandal to fulfill their accountability. Who and how will be punished will be determined by comprehensively considering factors, including the amount not included in funds reports, previous positions and lawmaker history, and how to fulfill accountability, Kishida said.

LDP Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi said, “We’ll take strict measures as soon as possible.” The LDP’s rules stipulate eight levels of punishment, ranging from recommendation to abide by party rules to expulsion.

Kishida expressed an eagerness to revise the political funds control law during the current parliamentary session set to end in June to prevent any repeat of the scandal. He also said he and LDP executives will travel across the country to discuss political reform with voters and party members.

Referring to the magnitude-7.6 earthquake that struck central Japan’s Noto Peninsula on New Year’s Day, Kishida promised to do everything possible for the reconstruction of affected areas. The Japanese economy will surely survive if expectations for wage increases are entrenched, he said.

Kishida expressed a willingness to expedite discussions on amending the Constitution. He reiterated his desire to see the Constitution revised during his term as LDP president.

In a speech, Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, sought to draft a bill to revise the political funds control law at an early date. “The coalition is facing the biggest challenge since it regained power in 2012,” he said.

At the convention, the LDP revised party rules to allow the secretary-general to ask factions to fulfill accountability over violations.

The party also established rules to allow the LDP to punish member lawmakers when a person in charge of accounting is arrested or indicted. It also adopted a 2024 campaign policy pledging to break away from old factions.