Kishida Eyes Stricter Political Funds Control Law

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

Kumamoto (Jiji Press)—Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday said that he aims for a stricter political funds control law, following a high-profile money scandal involving factions of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Talking at a regional roundtable dialogue session on political reform held in the southwestern Japan city of Kumamoto in response to the scandal, Kishida on the envisaged bill to amend the law said, “By enacting a strict law, we hope to restore public trust.”

Kishida has said that the LDP plans to submit the bill during the ongoing parliamentary session. The party is headed by Kishida.

It was the first time for Kishida to take part in a political reform dialogue session. In light of the scandal, the LDP decided that its senior members, including Kishida, will go around all 47 prefectures of Japan to listen to the voices of members of its local branches and others, with the first session of the dialogue held in the central Japan city of Kanazawa in late March.

Also at Saturday’s session, Kishida said: “I’d like to sincerely apologize as LDP president for creating a great deal of public distrust in politics. We must work on rebuilding the party with a sense of crisis.”

On punishments against scandal-related LDP lawmakers, which were announced on Thursday, Kishida said, “We must think about political responsibility as well as moral responsibility.”

Participants in the dialogue session criticized the money scandal one after another. “The anger of many people is now at a boiling point,” one of the participants said.

Another participant pointed out that the LDP also faced other scandals recently, including the one involving the party’s Women’s Affairs Division, noting that there is “a lack of a sense of ethics as lawmakers.”

Speaking to reporters after the session, Kishida expressed his resolve to achieve the proposed revision to the political funds control law during the current parliamentary session.

While noting that he wants to listen to opposing opinions from within the LDP about the punishments against scandal-hit lawmakers, Kishida called for the party’s unity by saying, “In the end, the LDP will work as one based on its decision.”

The ruling and opposition parties have agreed to set up special political reform committees in both chambers of parliament soon for discussions on the proposed revision of the political funds control law.

Opposition parties have called for a complete ban on donations from companies and organizations and the introduction of a guilt-by-association system, which holds politicians responsible for their accountants’ failure to report political funds appropriately. The focus is on how far the LDP can compromise.