Japan’s LDP, Komeito Agree for Most Part on Political Funds Control Law Revision; How Much to Disclose Proves to be Point of Contention

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Members of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito hold a working-level meeting on revising the Political Funds Control Law at the Diet building on Tuesday.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party told Komeito on Tuesday that it would agree to make public how policy activity expenses are used as well as lower the threshold for disclosing fundraising party ticket purchasers, at a meeting of the ruling parties.

The two parties held the working-level meeting to discuss how to revise the Political Funds Control Law. The LDP told Komeito that it would accept the proposed revisions.

The parties plan to reach an official agreement on Thursday at the earliest. They are expected to continue discussions to reach an agreement on such details as how and to what extent the policy activity expenses should be disclosed.

Policy activity expenses are funds that parties provide to individual lawmakers.

The LDP has been cautious about the proposed revisions regarding policy activity expenses and the threshold for disclosing fundraising party ticket purchasers. However, the LDP judged it necessary to compromise with Komeito in order to compile the ruling camp’s draft to revise the law.

“I have instructed working-level officials to compile [the draft] by the end of this week, and I have confirmed that with the [party] secretary general today,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday.

Regarding policy activity expenses, Komeito has proposed that all party lawmakers who will receive the funds will have to submit statements detailing how the money was used.

The LDP’s proposal is to have the policy activity expenses made public after a lawmaker receives the funds, which would be divided into about 10 designations.

The Political Funds Control Law prohibits individual lawmakers from accepting any donations for their political activities, but Article 21-2-2 exempts political parties’ donations to lawmakers from the stipulation.

Both ruling and opposition parties are allowed to provide policy activity expenses to their lawmakers.

While parties are required to report providing activity expenses as expenditures in their political funds reports, lawmakers who receive the funds are not required to disclose how the money was spent.

There are still points of contention between the parties’ drafts, such as how detailed the disclosures should be.

Concerning disclosing fundraising party ticket purchasers, Komeito wants to lower the threshold, which is currently set at more than ¥200,000 per occasion, to more than ¥50,000 per occasion.

However, some LDP lawmakers want the threshold to be set at more than ¥100,000 per occasion.

Prior to the Tuesday meeting, secretaries general and Diet affairs committee chairpersons of the two parties held a meeting at the Diet building. They confirmed that the secretaries general aim to reach an agreement as soon as possible.