Japan′s Ruling LDP to Submit Political Funds Reform Bill Alone; Coalition Partner Komeito Adamant on Lower Disclosure Threshold

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Working-level members of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito are seen at a meeting to discuss the revision of the Political Funds Control Law on Wednesday.

A joint meeting of the Liberal Democratic Party’s political reform headquarters working group and other committees discussed and broadly approved the LDP’s proposal for revising the Political Funds Control Law on Thursday morning. But the gap between the LDP and its ruling coalition partner Komeito remains unbridged regarding issues such as the disclosure threshold for purchasers of political fundraising party tickets.

The LDP plans to proceed with internal party procedures and to submit the bill to the Diet on its own as early as Friday.

Former Deputy Foreign Minister Keisuke Suzuki, the chairman of the working group, stressed the importance of preventing the recurrence of violations of the law at the joint meeting and said, “We will promote political reform in various ways.”

The LDP and Komeito agreed on strengthening penalties for Diet members and requiring external audits. However, the LDP proposal calls for lowering the disclosure threshold for purchasers of party tickets from the current “over ¥200,000” to “over ¥100,000,” while Komeito has not budged from its position of lowering it to “over ¥50,000.”

The LDP is leaning toward forgoing joint submission of the bill with Komeito, considering the deliberation schedule in the Diet.

It is extremely unusual for the ruling coalition parties to fail to coordinate their efforts on a bill initiated by Diet members, resulting in the LDP submitting the bill alone.

During the working-level discussions on Wednesday, the LDP presented the draft text to the Komeito side. Regarding the disclosure of the use of funds provided by political parties to their members for policy activity expenses, which had been a point of contention between the two parties, the LDP’s proposal calls for parties to make disclosures based on reports received from members for expenditures in each of five to 10 categories, such as organizational activity expenses, election-related expenses and research expenses. The aim is to increase transparency in the use of policy activity expenses, which had been criticized as opaque.

The LDP’s proposal also included items on which the LDP and Komeito had reached agreement, such as strengthening penalties for the members themselves. However, the Komeito side considers the proposal to be an LDP proposal rather than a ruling coalition proposal, as it includes points on which the two parties did not agree. The Komeito side has no plans to submit its own proposal to the Diet.