Kishida to Quiz Senior Abe Faction Member on Tues.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Kishida speaks at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday.

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who also serves as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, will hold a question session on Tuesday for former LDP General Council Chairman Ryu Shionoya over a political funds scandal.

Shionoya will be among the four senior members of the LDP’s faction previously led by the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to appear at the party hearing, which is expected to continue until Wednesday, people familiar with the matter said.

The other three are former party policy chief Hakubun Shimomura, former industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and Hiroshige Seko, former party secretary-general in the House of Councillors.

Kishida will be joined by LDP Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi and General Council Chairman Hiroshi Moriyama at the hearing.

“We’ll conduct a hearing to get to the bottom” of the scandal, Kishida told a meeting of the Upper House Budget Committee on Monday. “We’ll reach a decision (on the four lawmakers’) political responsibility,” he added.

Believing that the four should take heavy political responsibility for the Abe faction maintaining a practice of providing revenues from fundraising events to members as kickbacks, the LDP is currently considering imposing severe punishments on them, which may include withholding election endorsements.

The party hopes to reach a decision on the punishments as early as the first week of April.

In April 2022, Abe, who was head of the faction at the time, decided to abolish the kickback practice. It, however, continued after talks held in August the same year between the four senior members, following Abe’s death.

The four appeared before the political ethics panels of both chambers of parliament earlier this month and denied involvement in the kickback scheme being maintained. By imposing harsh punishments against them, Kishida is apparently hoping to put the whole issue to rest.