LDP Agrees with Komeito on ID’ing Party Ticket Buyers Over ¥50,000; Komeito, Ishin to Support Political Funds Reform Draft

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, and Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi shake hands ahead of a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday met Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi to discuss proposals for a bill to revise the Political Funds Control Law and said the Liberal Democratic Party would accept two items demanded by its junior coalition partner.

The key proposal requested by Komeito is to lower the disclosure threshold for the names of purchasers of political fundraising party tickets to over ¥50,000.

Kishida, who is also LDP president, also held talks with Nobuyuki Baba, leader of Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) and agreed to reflect Ishin’s demands. Komeito and Ishin are both expected to support the LDP’s draft, which reflects their requests.

After the meeting with Kishida, Yamaguchi praised the LDP’s move.

“I understand that it reflects the bold decision that we have been seeking, and we take special notice of such a move,” the Komeito leader said at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The LDP had proposed requiring disclosures of the identities of those who purchase more than ¥100,000 worth of fundraising party tickets per event. As conditions for agreeing to a bill to revise the law, Komeito had requested that the LDP further lower the disclosure threshold and that a third-party organization be established to check expenditures and other matters to improve transparency on the use of funds for political activity expenses, which political parties provide to their individual lawmakers.

The LDP approved both requests.

Within the LDP, some members were strongly cautious about lowering the disclosure threshold to over ¥50,000, and there were conflicting opinions even among party executives.

However, with the LDP lacking a majority in the House of Councillors, Kishida has made the final decision, recognizing that Komeito’s cooperation would be indispensable to realize the law revision.

In the meeting with Baba in the Diet building, Kishida concluded a written agreement on the following three points:

• Setting an annual cap for funds for political activity expenses and disclosing receipts and other documents related to such expenditures after 10 years.

• Abolishing preferential tax treatment for when lawmakers donate to political organizations that they represent.

• Taking legislative measures to mandate the disclosure of how a monthly allowance given to lawmakers for research, study, public relations and accommodations are used and the return of unused portions to the national coffers. The sum was previously known as document, correspondence, travel and accommodation expenses.

All of these had been demanded by Ishin. Now that Ishin has accepted concessions from the LDP, the party intends to vote for the bill to revise the law.

The LDP is aiming to achieve the law revision based on a broad consensus, not only from the ruling bloc, and it therefore has attached importance to gaining support from the opposition parties as well.

At Friday’s meeting of the House of Representatives’ special committee on political reform, the LDP was to formally present its draft to reflect what was discussed at the meetings with the Komeito and Ishin leaders earlier in the day.

The committee is expected to deliberate on the revised draft as early as the beginning of next week. The LDP aims to have legislation pass the lower house in the first half of next week.