CDPJ Seeks Initiative over Funds Law Revision

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Katsuya Okada

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is planning to seize the initiative in talks between the ruling and opposition parties over reform of the Political Funds Control Law, which are expected to start in the middle of this month, to create the public impression that the Liberal Democratic Party is not committed to political reform.

The CDPJ and other opposition parties reacted strongly to the ruling parties’ proposal to revise the law, saying that it is not enough to dispel public distrust.

“These reforms are a joke,” CDPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada said Thursday, criticizing the ruling parties’ draft proposal. He also told reporters that the proposal is “totally inadequate in terms of transparency.”

Earlier on Thursday, Okada met with Motohisa Furukawa, head of the Diet Affairs Committee of the Democratic Party for the People, in the Diet for their first talks on jointly submitting a bill to revise the law.

The two parties agreed to proceed with discussions on issues such as transparency of political funds, harsher punishments for lawmakers and the establishment of a third-party body for political funds.

The CDPJ has been gaining momentum after winning all three House of Representatives by-elections in April. During the election campaigns, the LDP factions’ alleged violation of the Political Funds Control Law was a point of contention.

On Wednesday, the CDPJ, Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) and the Japanese Communist Party filed a motion to have 44 LDP members of the factions led by late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai investigated by the House of Representatives Deliberative Council on Political Ethics. The opposition parties plan to demand that the LDP “swallow whole” the political reform proposals of the CDPJ and other opposition parties.

With an eye on the end of the current Diet session on June 23, the CDPJ is considering submitting a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet to force an early dissolution of the lower house.

However, the CDPJ is said to be approaching the LDP behind the scenes in order to avoid disclosure of the use of what was formerly called a “correspondence allowance” intended for documents, communications, travel and accommodations. The CDPJ’s political reform plan calls for the disclosure of how these funds are allotted and spent. “The CDPJ is claiming nice things on the surface, but they are secretly trying to avoid reforms that are inconvenient to them,” a senior Nippon Ishin official said.