40 Members of Japan’s LDP Abe, Nikai Factions to be Penalized Over Unreported Funds; Severity to Depend on Positions, Amounts

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Liberal Democratic Party’s headquarters building in Tokyo

The Liberal Democratic Party is set to penalize about 40 of the 82 members of the Abe and Nikai factions at the party’s Ethics Committee for failing to report kickbacks from political fundraising party ticket sales in their political funds reports, resulting in a scandal over Political Funds Control Law violations, several party members said.

For mid-ranking and younger members who were not in leadership positions but whose unreported funds totaled at least \5 million in the five years from 2018 to 2022 will likely be penalized.

LDP executives discussed what type of disciplinary action different members should face depending on their positions within the faction and the amount of money that was unreported. They decided that “disciplinary actions by the Ethics Committee are not necessary for those who do not have influence over the management of the faction and whose unreported funds are small.” These members are expected to be subjected to actions such as a warning from LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi.

The committee is likely to decide on disciplinary actions as early as Thursday.

Four former Abe faction executives — former education ministers Ryu Shionoya and Hakubun Shimomura, former economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and former secretary general for the LDP in the House of Councillors Hiroshige Seko — are deemed by LDP officials to bear the most responsibility as they could have stopped the practice. Some or all of them are expected to be asked to leave the party, which is the second-most severe punishment under party regulations.

The other members will be punished by measures such as having their party membership suspended, not being endorsed during elections or being suspended from their positions, depending on their positions in the factions and the amount that was unreported.

Former LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, who led the Nikai faction, failed to report the largest amount of \35.26 million. However, as Nikai has announced that he will not seek reelection in the House of Representatives, he will likely not be punished on the grounds that he has taken responsibility for his actions.