Liberal Democratic Party’s Nikai Won’t Run in Next Election to Take Responsibility Over Political Funding Scandal (Update 1)

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Toshihiro Nikai speaks at a press conference at Liberal Democratic Party headquarters in Tokyo on Monday.

Toshihiro Nikai, a former secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, announced Monday that he will not run in the next election for the House of Representatives.

A summary indictment was issued for Nikai’s secretary on suspicion of violating the Political Funds Control Law, as well as an indictment without arrest for the former treasurer of the Nikai faction. As a result, Nikai’s political responsibility is increasingly being questioned.

“I deeply apologize to the public for causing distrust in politics,” Nikai, 85, said at a press conference held Monday at the LDP’s headquarters in Tokyo. “To clarify my political responsibly, I have told Prime Minister and LDP President Fumio Kishida that I will not run in the next election.”

He said he had told Kishida about his decision on the phone that day.

Nikai has been elected to the lower house 13 times and currently represents Wakayama Constituency No. 3.

Nikai’s secretary was summarily indicted and convicted of violating the Political Funds Control Law for failing to report fundraising party income totaling ¥35.26 million in a political funds report for the faction.

The former treasurer of the Nikai faction was indicted without arrest for not including approximately ¥264 million in party income and other revenue in the faction’s political funds report for the five years to 2022. The Nikai faction decided to dissolve itself in January.

“It is obvious that political responsibility lies with myself entirely as the person responsible for supervision,” Nikai said.

The LDP plans to decide by early April on disciplinary measures to be taken against lawmakers who were involved in the violations of the Political Funds Control Law.

Nikai may be trying to settle the matter of his political responsibility by censuring himself before a decision is made by the LDP on disciplinary measures. Motoo Hayashi, a former deputy secretary general and a close associate of Nikai, who was also at the press conference, denied the possibility of Nikai appearing before the House of Representatives Deliberative Council on Political Ethics or that he might resign from the LDP.