Shionoya, Seko likely to be recommended to leave LDP; Ruling Party’s Ethics Committee to Meet Thursday

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi, left, attend an LDP Board meeting on Monday.

Ryu Shionoya and Hiroshige Seko — former executive members of the Abe faction of the Liberal Democratic Party — will likely face recommendations to leave the party as part of the LDP’s disciplinary action in response to the political funds scandal involving party factions, it has been learned.

According to party executives, the LDP will likely impose the second most severe of eight punishments in the party’s code of discipline on Shionoya, a former education, culture, sports, science and technology minister, and Seko, a former secretary general for the LDP in the House of Councillors, on the grounds that the two hold heavy moral and political responsibility in that they failed to stop the institutional wrongdoing in the faction.

The party will hold a meeting of its Ethics Committee on Thursday to consider punitive measures for Shionoya, Seko and 37 other LDP members of the faction once led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and another faction led by former LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai for failing to report revenues from kickbacks from the sale of tickets to the factions’ fundraising parties.

The party executives think that Shionoya and Seko, as well as former education minister Hakubun Shimomura and former economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, were in the position as senior members of the Abe faction to be able to stop the illicit kickbacks and therefore hold heavy responsibility. The four were instructed by Abe to stop the kickback practice and discussed the matter after Abe’s death, but failed to decide to stop the practice.

The party executives were mulling whether to impose recommendations to leave on all four of them or just some of them. The executives apparently view Shionoya and Seko as having held the main leadership positions in the faction, as Shionoya was its chief coordinator and Seko was its leader in the upper house. The party continues to consider whether to recommend that Shimomura and Nishimura leave the party.

LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi said Monday that the party executives requested Ichiro Aisawa, the chairperson of the party’s Ethics Committee, to hold a committee meeting. Motegi also released a list of the 39 Abe and Nikai factions members to be examined. The committee on Tuesday sent letters the 39 lawmakers to seek their explanations in writing by Thursday.

In addition to senior members of the factions, mid-career and young members who failed to report ¥5 million or more in revenues from kickbacks in political funds reports for a period of five years from 2018 to 2022 are named in the list. Ryota Takeda, who served as secretary general of the Nikai faction, was also named.

“We would like to strictly judge their moral and political responsibility, including whether they have fulfilled the role expected of them by the public as a faction executives,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a meeting of the party’s Board on Monday.