Japan’s Ruling Bloc Criticized over Funds Law Revision Plan

TOKYO — Japan’s ruling bloc met with criticism from opposition forces Friday over its proposals for revising the political funds control law in the wake of a high-profile slush funds scandal.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party explained the proposals at the inaugural meeting of the special committee on political reform in the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of parliament.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties claimed that the proposals, including the introduction of a guilt-by-association system to clarify the responsibility of lawmakers over political funds control law violations, were incomplete and inadequate, calling for more drastic changes such as a ban on political donations from companies and groups.

The LDP hopes to revise the law during the current parliamentary session set to end in June, aiming to regain the trust of the public following the slush funds scandal involving the party.

LDP lawmaker Yoshihiko Isozaki said at the Upper House meeting that the ruling bloc’s proposals will expand the disclosure of the names of buyers of fundraising party tickets and clarify how lawmakers used policy activity funds.

He dismissed the proposed ban on corporate political donations, saying sources of political funds need to remain diversified.

CDP lawmaker Takumi Onuma said that the guilt-by-association system proposed by the ruling camp is “inadequate and ineffective.”

The ruling bloc’s proposals are “far from the reform we seek,” said Kaori Takagi of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party). “The current policy activity funds should be scrapped, and a new system should be created to disclose usage as much as possible.”

Yoshifumi Hamano of the Democratic Party for the People said that the ruling bloc’s proposals were “inadequate.” The Japanese Communist Party’s Satoshi Inoue demanded that the LDP clarify the whole picture of the scandal.